Potential Complications of Tracheostomy Care

Medical dummy with a tracheostomy

For many people with complex health conditions a tracheostomy is the lifeline they require to enable them to breathe safely. There are many different reasons a person may require a tracheostomy, from chronic health conditions that impair airway function, to brain and spinal cord injuries that affect the use of their respiratory muscles.

Regardless of the reason, it is important that highly specialist care is given to avoid complications that can put a person at risk. So, what are the potential complications of tracheostomy care and what is the best way to ensure client safety? Read on to find out.

What is a tracheostomy?

A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure that involves creating an opening in the neck to create a direct airway to the trachea. This procedure is often necessary for individuals who face breathing difficulties due to a complex health condition. While it can significantly improve a person’s ability to breathe, proper care of the tracheostomy site is crucial to prevent potential complications that can arise from this procedure.

Importance of tracheostomy care

A specialist care team skilled in tracheostomy care is essential for maintaining a safe and functioning tracheostomy tube and airway for clients. High quality tracheostomy care involves regular cleaning, monitoring, and following a highly specific care plan. As well as intervention when required to prevent complications that can lead to unnecessary hospital visits.

The potential complications of tracheostomy care

  • Risk of infection

Due to the nature of the procedure and its location, a tracheostomy can be extremely susceptible to infections. Signs of infection may include redness, swelling, or discharge around the trachea site.

  • Bleeding

Bleeding is a common complication for those with a tracheostomy. It’s crucial to handle the trachea with care and have an understanding of the proper techniques to prevent this. If bleeding persists or is excessive then immediate medical attention is required.

  • Airway complications

A tracheostomy can cause air to become trapped in the lungs, chest or the skin around the tracheostomy site, causing respiratory issues.

  • Mucus plugging

Accumulation of mucus around the tracheostomy tube can lead to blockages, making breathing difficult for the patient.

  • Damage to the trachea

Improper cleaning techniques can potentially damage the trachea, leading to discomfort, pain, or difficulty breathing. The narrowing or collapse of the airway above the tracheostomy site can also occur following the procedure and may require surgery to repair it.

  • Tube dislodgement

Accidental dislodgement of the tracheostomy tube can lead to an emergency situation, leaving a person unable to breathe. Therefore proper care training on handling and securing the tube to prevent such incidents is vital.

  • Tracheo-esophageal fistula

This is an opening that is created between the windpipe and the oesophagus due to the procedure, which can further interfere with a person’s airway and respiratory function.

  • Tracheomalacia

This is when thinning of the trachea occurs due to friction from the tube rubbing against it, which can cause serious pain and discomfort.

  • Granulation tissue

Excessive growth of granulation tissue around the trachea site can cause discomfort or even a blockage. Surgery may be required to remove this before the tracheostomy itself can be removed.

Individuals requiring long-term tracheostomy care face a higher risk of complications, therefore a strict care plan should be followed at all times.

Preventing complications through expert nurse led care

Preventing the complications of tracheostomy care largely depends on the quality of care a person receives. Adherence to a well-structured tracheostomy care routine is essential to ensure client safety.

Caregivers should always have adequate training in tracheostomy care techniques and procedures, enabling them to prevent complications and act appropriately if an emergency situation does arise.

Ensuring a rigorous cleaning schedule of the tracheostomy will decrease the risk of infections. While regular suctioning of mucus helps prevent blockages and ensures a clear airway for clients.

Early intervention when there are any signs of infection, bleeding, or discomfort is also essential to avoid complications becoming a serious health concern and putting a person at risk.

Nurse-led tracheostomy care at HFH

At HFH our highly skilled Nurse Case Managers oversee our complex care teams, regularly reviewing care plans to ensure they are consistently meeting the needs of our clients. As experts in nurse-led care, we understand the specific needs of our tracheostomy clients, and each of our in-home carers are expertly trained to ensure that the highest quality of care is delivered every time.

If you would like to find out more about our tracheostomy care or any other of our in-home complex care services then get in touch with our friendly team or give us a call on 02086059714.

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