When someone can't breathe because their airway is blocked, a surgical procedure called a tracheotomy might be necessary, when a doctor makes an incision through their neck and into their windpipe.
The medical term tracheotomy comes from trachea, the anatomical name for "windpipe," and the suffix -tomy, from the Greek tomia, "a cutting." In simple terms, a tracheotomy is the cutting of someone's trachea. Emergency tracheotomies are commonly performed when a person has choked on an object that becomes wedged in their airway. A successful tracheotomy allows the person to breathe again, until the object can be removed.