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.

Definitions of tracheotomy
  1. noun
    a surgical operation that creates an opening into the trachea with a tube inserted to provide a passage for air; performed when the pharynx is obstructed by edema or cancer or other causes
    synonyms: tracheostomy
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    type of:
    operation, surgery, surgical operation, surgical procedure, surgical process
    a medical procedure involving an incision with instruments; performed to repair damage or arrest disease in a living body
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