Tracheotomy is a type of surgery used to make an opening in the neck that a person can breathe through. The opening is called a tracheostomy.
During tracheotomy, a surgical cut (incision) is made in the front of the neck over the windpipe, or trachea. The trachea is the main breathing tube leading to the lungs. The incision is made below the vocal cords. A rigid plastic or metal tube is inserted to keep the incision open. The tube is usually connected to a machine called a ventilator that helps the person breathe. But a ventilator is not always needed.
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