Difference between tracheotomy and tracheostomy

The words tracheotomy and tracheostomy are often used interchangeably but do not refer to exactly the same thing. There is no universal consensus and both terms are sometimes confused even in medical literature. In this article we will try to explain the differences and clarify the most frequent doubts.


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The current most widespread and collected in various medical dictionaries is to use the term tracheotomy to refer generally to the surgical intervention consisting of making a hole in the trachea . The aims can be diverse, for example the removal of foreign bodies, the realization of biopsies or the opening of an emergency airway (advanced first aid procedure called cricotirotomía or coniotomía ). The intervention is performed under general anesthesia, except for extreme urgency, and the hole made usually closed in the same intervention.



The term tracheostomy is reserved specifically for surgical intervention aimed at making a hole in the trachea with the aim of restoring the flow of air to the lungs by introducing a tube (tracheostomy tube). It is performed in patients with obstructed upper airways. It is also known by the names, currently little used, of cricothyroidectomy and coniostomy.

Depending on the circumstances, the tracheostomy may be temporary or permanent and is usually performed under general anesthesia. The orifice is called a tracheostomy , a hole that also opens in the laryngectomy to allow breathing of the patient who has part or all of the larynx removed, usually due to the presence of a tumor.

Some medical sources and organizations. for example Mayo Clinic , use the term tracheotomy (tracheotomy) to refer to any surgical procedure that makes a hole in the trachea and use the term tracheostomy (tracheostomy) to refer to the hole itself (the aforementioned tracheostoma).

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