Kids Health Info

Tracheostomy equipment

  • Tracheostomy tubes

    There are many styles, types and brands of tracheostomy tubes available. The type of tracheostomy tube selected for your child will depend on their individual needs.

    Tracheostomy tubes are all described in the same way.

    They have a:             

    • 15mm extension (tracheostomy tubes can come without this)
    • lange or neck plate (this is where the ties go through)
    • cannula (a hollow tube - the part that is inserted through the surgical opening (stoma) into the child's airway)

    Some tubes may also have:

    • an obturator or introducer (goes into the tracheostomy tube during tube insertion)
    • a cuff (balloon around a cannula)
    • fenestrations (small holes in the cannula)
    • inner cannula (this can be removed for cleaning)

    Speaking valves

    There are various types of speaking valves available. ShileyTM and PassyMuir TM are the ones commonly used at the Royal Children's Hospital.

    These speaking valves are one-way valves that sit on the end of the tracheostomy tube. They allow air to go into the tracheostomy tube on inspiration and then close after full inspiration to allow the expired air to be directed past the tracheostomy tube through the trachea, larynx and upper airway to promote speech.

    Other equipment

    It is best to have all the things with your child that you may need in an emergency. Most families find a small container or bag, labelled with their child's name and contact details, is a good way to carry the supplies.

      You will need to keep a supply of the following with your child at all times:

    • tracheostomy tube of the same size and spare ties
    • tracheostomy tube one size smaller
    • portable suction pump and suction catheters
    • scissors
    • mucous trap - for emergency suction
    • sterile saline & syringe
    • one way valve for expired air resuscitation

    Key Points to remember

    • A tracheostomy is a surgical opening into the windpipe (trachea)
    • The child breathes through a small plastic tube instead of their nose and mouth
    • It is usually done to relieve severe breathing difficulties
    • It may be temporary or permanent
    • The tracheostomy tube and/or the reason it was inserted may affect the child's speech or ability to make sounds

    Contacts for help and support

    • In an emergency call the ambulance on 000
    • The Royal Children's Hospital Respiratory Nurse
      T: (03) 9345 5795 (direct); or
      T: switchboard on (03) 9345 5522 - ask them to page the Respiratory Nurse or the Respiratory Doctor on call.
    • General information, email discussion groups and parental support are available at: ONTRach support group.
    • Fact sheet: Tracheostomy 


    Developed by the RCH Department of Respiratory Medicine. First published in March 2008. Updated November 2010.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.