Tracheostomies: Understanding Why Your Infant Needs A Breathing Tube

Tracheostomies: Understanding Why Your Infant Needs A Breathing Tube

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If your newborn needs a tracheostomy, as parents you may be confused, concerned and scared about why and what to do next.

Understanding why your child needed a tracheostomy performed is the first step in getting them the best care.

What is a tracheostomy?

Every baby has a trachea in his or her throat which is the tube-like structure that allows air to pass through the throat to the lungs.

If there is mucus or a blockage in the tube, your infant would struggle to breathe. A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure in which a doctor places a tube down your child’s trachea, and the tube breathes for him or her.

During the procedure, a surgeon places a tracheostomy tube by making an incision into the stoma, which is the front of the neck. While it’s gruesome to think about, at a basic level it’s a tube that is connected to a hole in the neck that allows safe breathing for your infant.

A tracheostomy may be permanent or temporary depending on what your child is suffering from.

Why does a baby need a tracheostomy? 

There are a few reasons your baby may need a tracheostomy, but some of the most common ones are:

  • If there is a blockage in your baby’s upper airway and air can’t enter your baby’s lungs.
  • If there’s any mucus in your baby’s lungs or airway that his or her body can’t clear naturally, a tube may be needed to assist in breathing. Mucus is natural in human lungs and helps expel dust and dirt. However, if your baby can’t cough it out, and too much builds up, then he or she is more prone to infections.
  • If your baby suffered brain damage during childbirth, he or she may struggle to breathe on his or her own and need assistance.

There are a few reasons that upper airway obstruction may occur, either because of bilateral vocal cord paralysis, tracheal or laryngeal stenosis, infection, trauma, or because of a cyst or tumor blocking the airway.

If your child needs a tracheostomy due to trauma or infection, you may have the potential for a malpractice case.

If your baby needs long-term mechanical ventilation it might be due to neurologic conditions or trauma. For long-term ventilation, a tracheostomy is considered safer and more comfortable than an endotracheal tube and allows the baby to breathe without a breathing tube that goes through the mouth or nose.

What can parents expect after a tracheostomy?

What happens after your child’s tracheostomy depends on how long he or she needs the tube for.

If your baby needs a tracheostomy for more than a few days, the tracheostomy tube will be changed to a new tube to prevent infections. If your infant will need the tracheostomy long term, as the wound starts to heal, medical staff will start to educate you and your family on how to care for the ventilator.

If you feel your baby needed a tracheostomy due to medical malpractice that occurred during childbirth, reach out to our attorneys at Ross Feller Casey. Our firm has a national reputation for winning medical malpractice cases for families and earning record-setting recoveries to help ease the expenses and pain during this time.

We have Ivy-league trained doctors and lawyers on our team that will help you navigate your case. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless we win.  

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.