Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writing Research: Performing a Tracheotomy

It's time for another edition of writing research! It's been awhile, in regards to this series and blogging in general. I've been madly editing videos (who knew the amount of time editing takes?) and experimenting with some video projects for SOI. Anyways, today's topic is performing a tracheotomy. Enjoy!

tracheotomy  (ˌtrækɪˈɒtəmɪ) 

— n  , pl -mies
surgical incision into the trachea, usually performed when the upper air passage has been blocked

I choose to research this procedure, because I've seen it a few times in movies/T.V. shows. I think Chicago Fire's had Dawson performing a few of those over the first season. Those scenes where always very intense and created a lot of tension. Rightfully so, they're cutting into someone's throat to save their life! And we all know tension = good writing.

How to perform a tracheotomy:

What you need: A razor blade or sharp knife
A tube (preferably a medical one ["good first aid kits will have 'trache' tubes"], but your characters won't have that if you want to height the tension, so a ball-point pen with the ink cartridge removed, a straw or a rolled up piece of stiff cardboard/paper)

1. Try the Heimlich maneuver first, tracheotomy should be done as a last resort and preferably by a medical expert. After three minutes without air the person will likely die.

2. Find the indentation between the Adam's apple or larynx and the circoid cartilage. This is the soft part of the throat where the incision will be made.

3. Use your blade to cut a half-inch wide incision that is about a half-inch deep. You will need to cut deep enough to gain access to the airway. There shouldn't be too much blood.

4. Pinch the cut or insert your finger in to open the slit (one source says to do this another, doesn't mention it. Your choice)

5. Insert your tube into the slit about one or one-half inch into the throat.

6. Give two short breaths into the tube, then wait five seconds and give another breath. The person should be able to breath by themselves (obviously in a labored manner, though). You'll see their chest rise and fall, and the person should gain consciousnesses if it's done right.

7. Get professional medical help.

Here's a quick video on it (don't worry he doesn't actually perform the procedure!):

Reasons to perform a tracheotomy:
-Trauma to the neck area
-Tumor blocking airway
-Foreign object blocking the airway
-Spinal cord injury (resulting in paralysis)
-Underlying health issue
-Unconscious from drug overdose, severe head injury, or poisoning
-Allergic reaction causes throat to close
-Has an injury that allows blood to fill the airways

According to the ever-trustful Wikipedia, Tracheotomies were first used by early Romans, although disease killed a lot of the patients since they didn't sterilize their tools. Anyways, hope you enjoyed that and learned something that might be helpful to your writing. Let me know in the comments if you ever experienced or wrote about anything to do with Tracheotomies.

What I'm reading: Fragments by Dan Wells
What I'm watching: Revolution
What I'm listening to: The Great Gatsby soundtrack

Source Source Source Source


  1. Cringing just by reading this! SO GHASTLY

  2. Haha, you have a point. It is a little "ghastly" as you put it, but I just found it so interesting!

    Thanks for commenting:)

  3. That is gross. Extremely interesting. But...oh, ug. I am never being a doctor. I just could not do that. But fascinating, all the same. Actually, I probably shouldn't be reading about cutting open people's throats, because I plan to go to bed. Anyway! Great post!

    1. I agree, I could never be a doctor. I was wondering as I was writing the post if I would ever be able to do this in real life, and I don't think I could without being a squeamish mess!

      Hopefully you slept well, despite the post, haha!

  4. Reason number 100 I'm not a doctor. I'd faint half way through, no, right away. Just the thought of it makes my stomach turn. 8-P


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