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Companion Animal Practice
Indications, placement and management of tracheostomy tubes
  1. Ian Nicholson

    Ian Nicholson graduated from Bristol in 2000 and spent six years in mixed and small animal practice before completing a small animal junior clinical training scholarship at the Royal Veterinary College. He is currently a senior clinical training scholar in small animal surgery at Cambridge.

  2. Stephen Baines

    Stephen Baines graduated from Cambridge in 1990. He is currently senior lecturer in small animal surgery at the Royal Veterinary College. He holds certificates in veterinary radiology and small animal surgery, is a diplomate of the European College of Surgeons, and is a European and RCVS specialist in small animal surgery.


Placement of a tracheostomy tube is a simple procedure and can be a lifesaving intervention. However, the presence of a tube within the trachea that allows air to bypass the glottis and nasal cavity changes respiratory tract function and this needs to be addressed and managed accordingly. Patients require constant monitoring while the tube is in place ‐ complications are common and may lead to death if they are unrecognised and untreated. This article describes the indications and surgical technique for tracheostomy tube placement, and discusses the postoperative management of the tube and the patient. It also highlights the potential complications that might arise and outlines how these may be avoided.

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