Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
tracheostomy, medical device, mucus, airway, cleaning, suctioning, removal
Over 100,000 people receive tracheostomies each year in the United States when mechanical ventilation is needed for longer than 48 hours, a patient has a chronically obstructed airway, or the patient is unable to protect their airway from aspiration. A tracheostomy is inserted into a patient’s trachea in order to modify their airway through a tracheotomy procedure. A tracheostomy tube alters the natural lining of an airway which normally has a 5-50 μm thick layer of mucus. An airway with a tracheostomy tube produces more mucus than the average airway of a healthy person, and it also limits the patient’s ability to swallow mucus causing mucus to build up on the walls of the tube.Mucus buildup is one of the major issues seen with tracheostomy tubes. Our device, Breathe Easy, aims to make cleaning a tracheostomy tube easier and faster. Breathe Easy limits the use of suctioning and is easy for not only caretakers to use but also the patient themselves. Breathe Easy is used by simply inserting the tube until the stopper prevents further descent, then the pump is squeezed to inflate the balloon located at the end of the tube. After inflation the outer ring on the balloon touches the sides of the tracheostomy tube. The user pulls the balloon out of the tracheostomy and the outer ring scrapes the inner wall of the tracheostomy. This scraping removes most of the mucus resulting in a clear airway so that the patient can breathe easy again.
Swanson, Kathleen; Russ, Katelynn; and Zimmerman, Olivia, "Breathe Easy: A More Efficient Way to Avoid Tracheostomy Airway Blockages" (2020). Honors Theses. 2472.