Among the oldest described surgical procedures, tracheotomy (also referred to as pharyngotomy, laryngotomy, and tracheostomy) consists of making an incision on the anterior aspect of the neck and opening a direct airway through an incision in the trachea.
The resulting stoma can serve independently as an airway or as a site for a tracheostomy tube to be inserted; this tube allows a person to breathe without the use of his or her nose or mouth. Both surgical and percutaneous techniques are widely used in current surgical practice.
While there were some earlier false starts the first widely accepted Percutaneous Tracheotomy technique was described by Pat Ciaglia, a New York surgeon, in 1985. This technique involves a series of sequential dilatations using a set of seven dilators of progressively larger size.
The next widely used technique was developed in 1989 by Bill Griggs, an Australian intensive care specialist. This technique involves the use of a specially modified pair of forceps with a central hole enabling them to pass over a guidewire enabling the performance of the main dilation in a single step.
Since then a number of other techniques have been described. A variant of the original Ciaglia technique using a single tapered dilator known as a "blue rhino" is the most commonly used of these newer techniques and has largely taken over from the early multiple dilator technique. The Griggs and Ciaglia Blue Rhino techniques are the two main techniques in current use.
A number of comparison studies have been undertaken between these two techniques with no clear differences emerging.
Biphasic Cuirass Ventilation is a form of non-invasive mechanical ventilation that can, in many cases allow patients an alternative mode of respiratory support, allowing patients to avoid an invasive tracheostomy and its many complications. While this method has not been proven to help in every case, it has been shown to be an effective alternative for many.
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