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Top: Incision for inferior tracheotomy

Bottom: Tracheal anatomy and surrounding structures

In diphtheria patients with a significant formation of leathery pseudo-membrane, providing a way to breathe is paramount. Since the putrid pus that hardened into the membrane would be pushed into the bronchi if regular intubation was used, a technique that allowed air in below the upper pharynx (where most of the membrane formed) was needed. The concept of the tracheotomy has been around for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that more than a handful of patients survived the procedure when it came to diphtheria and other membranous croups. Well, if you consider 25% to be “more than a handful”.

By the point a patient would need a tracheotomy, the procedure would need to be done quickly and accurately, but because of the relative size of veins, arteries, nerves, and tendons surrounding a child’s trachea, it would be incredibly difficult to do this successfully. However, once the medical schools began teaching this as a standard procedure in the mid-1800s, the success rate (meaning the survival of the patient, not just the procedure being done correctly) increased to around 45%. Given how sick someone with advanced pseudo-membranous laryngeal diphtheria is, that’s not bad at all.

Atlas and Epitome of Operative Surgery. Otto Zuckerkandel, translated by J. Chalmers DaCosta, 1902.

A Treatise on Diphtheria including Croup, Tracheotomy, and Intubation. Henry Z. Gill, 1887.

A horse with a tracheotomy, a hole cut into the trachea to facilitate breathing. This particular horse had been bitten on the nose by a snake, resulting in severe swelling of his nostrils to the point that they were occluded. The snakebite also produced a coagulapathy where his blood didn’t clot effectively, causing intermittent bleeding. He made a full recovery.

It’s just part of my wanting to be all things to all people. I did a piece for Premiere magazine once on being a hyphenate. I’m a writer-director-actor, which I’ve always kind of enjoyed. I compared it to the Olympic biathlon. “Not only can he cross-country ski, but he’s a terrific marksman as well.” I want people to say, “You mean that writer performed a tracheotomy?” That’s right, I do everything.
Watch on mylifewithlupus.tumblr.com

Jasey, 1 month before her last surgery! which was september 21st 2011. the following month miss.Jasey will be having a sleep study conducted in order to determine whether or not she’s okay to have the trach removed. So far, things look promising!

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