Posted by: Vera | 2010-03-10

Tracheostomy for ever?

In March 2009 I had an operation to have a swelling removed from my neck and my vocal chords were damaged so I had a tracheostomy. I still have it in after the ENT said " 6 to nine months" . I cannot breathe very well without the pipe and I''m losing hope - the pipe hurts my neck and I can''t sleep which is adding to my depression, I''m sure. Is he stringing me along? Will my vocal chords regrow? How much longer will I have to endure this? Should I go for a 2nd opinion (which the medical aid won''t pay for and is going to cost R800)?

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Our expert says:
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Dear Vera

You need to establish the real reason for the tracheostomy. If the cause is reversable, the tube may be removed. This clearly depends on the origin of the lump, etc. If it was cancerous, this may have caused the vocal cord palsy. It is not possible to give an opinion without all the facts, but in cases were the vocal cord problem is temporary, the tube may be removed only if the problem resolves, otherwise you will not have an adequate airway.
The best advice would be to establish all the facts, and then decide on further management.
If the problem is immobile vocal cords, then the problem could be more permanent, and one should embark on methods to correct that surgically, such as with laser.
You would need the opinion of a Head and Neck surgeon on this, so ask your doctor if this is his/her field of expertise. In the interim, one could enquire about the more comfortable types of trachy tubes that are made for longterm use, and which are indeed very comfortable to use.


The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Vera | 2010-03-31

The lumps were not cancerous. Evidently the chords were damaged during the operation because there were so many granulomas present. So the vocal chords are immobile which is why I can''t breathe without the pipe. I did have a very comfortable silver pipe in but have now reverted to the plastic fenestrated pipe that I had in originally because my ENT wants to take the pipe out within the next month but if I block the pipe I can''t breathe without labouring. I believe it can take up to 18 months for vocal chords to heal but if nothing has happened in the last year, will anything happen in the next six months? Should I just go and have the surgery because I''m waiting in vain? Is there a possibility that the surgery may not be a success? I really don''t want to live with a trachy for the rest of my life...

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