Dislodged Tracheostomy Positioning Technique Periprocedural Care

Updated: Aug 18, 2021
  • Author: Camil EL Correia, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Periprocedural Care

Patient Education & Consent

Elements of Informed Consent

Informed consent may not always be possible to obtain immediately prior to tube reinsertion or repositioning, as the patient may be in distress, requiring quick action. However, the possibility of tube dislodgement and possible loss of airway both during and after the surgical insertion of the tube should be explained to the patient or their legal representative prior to performing the tracheotomy.


Pre-Procedure Planning


A dislodged tracheostomy tube often requires emergent replacement. Therefore, it is important to have all of the necessary equipment readily available (see Table 1).

Table 1. Devices to Have Available During Replacement of a Dislodged Tracheostomy Tube (Open Table in a new window)



Ambu-bag with face mask

Allows ventilation via nose/mouth if stoma covered until tube can be replaced


Replace current tube with graduated, smooth tip instead of blunt end; decreased risk of false passage creation

Tracheostomy tube (current size and one size smaller)

Replace a plugged tube; replace a tube with broken cuff; replace tube into narrowed stoma

Suction catheter

Suction through tube to confirm placement and can help identify tract; can be used as guide for replacement of tube

Water-based lubricant

Allows gentle reinsertion of tube or other devices to manipulate stoma

Endotracheal tube (cuffed)

Variety of sizes available to place through narrowed tract; can also provide increased length to bypass stenosis, granulation tissue, tumor; can be used if orotracheal intubation is necessary

Flexible fiberoptic endoscope

Can be used to identify tract versus false passage; can be used to confirm proper positioning of tube after replacement; can be used to identify presence of granulation tissue or tumor in trachea; tube can be replaced over endoscope via Seldinger technique

Cook catheter

Can be used as guide for replacement of tube; lumen of catheter allows jet ventilation

Cricoid hook

Elevates trachea toward skin in new tracheotomies

Army-Navy retractors

Can pull soft tissue away from tracheostoma, improving visualization

Trousseau dilator or nasal speculum

Use to dilate tracheostoma

Tracheostoma dilators

Graduated dilators can be passed to increase size of stoma; a lumen allows jet ventilation

Mayo scissors

Cut ties, sutures, or obstructing soft tissue


May be necessary for re-entry into a closed stoma


Improves visualization of stoma


Patient Preparation


No anesthesia is required for replacement of a dislodged tracheostomy tube. If a large amount of manipulation of the tracheostoma is necessary, such as with dilators, 4% topical lidocaine may be sprayed at the site to decrease irritation. Injection of local anesthesia around the stoma should be avoided, as it may cause a temporary narrowing of the opening as it infiltrates surrounding tissue, although a judicious amount may alleviate discomfort from dilation, if needed.


The patient should be placed in the supine position with the neck gently extended by placement of a shoulder roll.


Monitoring & Follow-up

After the dislodged tracheostomy tube has been replaced, a suction catheter should pass easily past the distal end of the tracheostomy tube and airway secretions suctioned for confirmation. Tube positioning can be confirmed by passing a fiberoptic endoscope through the tube to visualize tracheal rings and carina or by obtaining a chest radiograph.

A stethoscope should immediately be used to auscultate bilateral breath sounds. A tube that was difficult to reinsert should be tightly secured with consideration to placing string ties and/or stitches. The tube should be treated as a freshly placed tracheostomy tube, and 5-7 days should pass prior to its next change. If the tube was very difficult to insert, the next tube change should be performed in a monitored setting. Changing it in the operating room should be considered, as a variety of airway equipment is available.