There is a lot of confusion that can arise when distinguishing between a tracheostomy and a laryngectomy, but it’s important to distinguish between the emergency management of these patients is very different. The two versions of the emergency algorithms can be found below.
A laryngectomy is the permanent removal of the larynx, bringing the trachea to the front of the neck where the patient will breathe through for the rest of their life.
The key difference between a tracheostomy and a laryngectomy is that the airway and the throat are permanently separated following a laryngectomy, and anything entering the patient’s mouth or nose will end up in their stomach rather than in the lungs. On the other hand, a patient with a tracheostomy still has a route to their lungs through their mouth, which can cause complications especially if a patient is not able to manage their own secretions.