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Physiological Changes caused by Tracheostomy

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 A tracheostomy by-passes the upper airway. This means that the normal function of the nose and mouth are unable to occur naturally.

  • Warming of air
  • Humidification of air
  • Filtering of air, including dust particles and micro-organisms
  • Communication/vocalising
  • Swallowing, nutrition & hydration
  • Smell 
A tracheostomy tube reduces the upper airway anatomical dead space by up to 150ml or 50% (Pritchard, 1994).  Pulmonary resistance remains higher when breathing via a tracheostomy tube when compared to normal upper airway breathing. The amount of resistance is dependant on the size and type of the tracheostomy tube used. The difference in dead space between an endotracheal tube and tracheostomy tube is approximately 20mls.   These functions include: