We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Difference between a Tracheostomy and Intubation?

By C. Webb
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The tracheostomy and intubation are medically used methods to assist a patient in breathing. The primary difference between a tracheostomy and intubation is that a tracheostomy is a surgical procedure to create opening into the trachea for long term protection of airway and can be continued following discharge from the hospital, while intubation is for short term protection and typically requires continuous monitoring in the intensive care unit. In addition, intubation does not usually require any incisions, while a tracheostomy uses a surgical incision in the throat to be put in place. Several factors, including patient age, medical issues, and throat structure, are considered when deciding whether to use a tracheostomy or intubation to help the patient breathe.

A tracheostomy differs from intubation in that a tracheostomy requires a surgical procedure to complete. An airway is cut into the patient's cervical trachea, which is located at the base of the front of the neck. Once the hole is cut, a medical device called a stoma is placed in the hole. A stoma is an inflexible tubular-shaped piece that holds the surgically cut airway open and allows air to pass through into the lungs.

Intubation does not require surgical openings to be used. It works by running a thin, flexible tube through the mouth, down the throat, and into the lungs. Once in place, the tube remains there until the attending physician orders it removed. Through this tube, air is provided by a machine connected to a monitoring device. Health-care workers are able to set the machine to deliver as many breaths per minutes as the patient would normally breathe on his or her own.

Patients with tracheostomies can breathe on their own, or the breathing can be done for them by attaching a tube to the tracheostomy opening and having the air pumped to and from the lungs by machine. An important difference between a tracheostomy and intubation is that with intubation, the patient does not breathe completely on his or her own, but instead has regulated assistance from the machine. Breathing can be done entirely by machine,or the machine can be adjusted to allow the patient to breathe with assistance. For example, the patient contributes 25 percent to each breath, and the machine contributes 75 percent.

Tracheostomies are typically used when an upper airway obstruction makes intubation difficult or impossible. Obstructions can be caused by structural defects in the neck or throat, tumors, swelling, or injury. The tracheostomy is cut below the upper airway, bypassing the obstruction interfering with breathing.

Healing time is another difference between a tracheostomy and intubation. The procedure for removing intubation is to require the patient take in a deep breath and forcefully exhale while medical workers pull the tubing out. Once it is removed, though the patient may be sore and hoarse, no additional healing is needed. Tracheostomies are removed through a surgical procedure. After the stoma is out, the skin will close the hole in approximately one week, though a visible scar may remain for life.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.