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Ventilation Through a Tracheostomy Tube

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A ventilator is a machine used to help your child breathe. There are many reasons why a child may need help to breathe. These might include prematurity, pneumonia, operations that last a long time, or other situations that keep the lungs from working normally.

The tracheostomy tube that is in your child’s airway (the trachea) will be attached to the plastic tubing from the ventilator. The ventilator will help your child breathe and can provide oxygen if needed.

These tubes need to stay in place as long as your child needs help breathing.

While the breathing tube is in place, your child will need to be suctioned at times. Suctioning helps remove secretions from the trachea and lungs. It keeps the tube clear so that your child can receive breaths more effectively. This procedure can appear uncomfortable for your child, but your child will feel better after the tube is cleared and he/she breathes easier.

Your child will be connected to a pulse oximeter. A pulse oximeter is a machine that measures oxygen saturation (the amount of oxygen) in your child’s blood. To get this measurement, a small sensor (like a band-aid) is taped onto your child’s finger or toe. When the oximeter is on, a small red light can be seen in the sensor. The sensor is painless and the red light does not get hot.

Blood tests may also be done to check how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in your child's blood. These tests show how well the lungs are working and are used to make changes in the ventilator.

When your child can breathe on his/her own, the ventilator can be removed. Continued need for the tracheostomy tube will be addressed by your physician according to your child’s condition.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 02/2009

(757) 668-7000