New device could make tracheotomies quicker and easier


January 27, 2014

A rendering of the life-saving tool

A rendering of the life-saving tool

When a patient can't breathe through their mouth or nose, often the only way of getting air to their lungs is to perform a tracheotomy. This involves making an incision in the trachea, and inserting a breathing tube through it. Now, scientists are creating a device to streamline the process.

Developed by researchers at Spain's Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the cylindrical-bodied tool has a sheathed breathing tube running through it, at the front of which is a spring-loaded cannula and the lens of a fiber optic camera. That sharp-ended combo is lined up with the patient's trachea and held in place using a curved brace that is pressed against their neck and collar bone.

The cannula is then inserted by the user, who first adjusts the preload of the spring based on the particular situation. Once it's within the patient's airway, the tube can be guided into place by viewing real-time video from the camera, on a smartphone-like device mounted on top.

The gadget is intended for use both in planned tracheotomies taking place in operating rooms, and in emergency tracheotomies carried out on location – most of us are probably more familiar with the latter, from movies and TV shows. Besides their being carried along by ambulance crews, the devices could also be installed in public spaces for emergency use, like defibrillators already are.

Source: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

A brilliant invention; so which TV detective programme will be the first to include it as a murder weapon? :)


Tracheostomy, surely; a tracheotomy would be a removal of the trachea, no?

Mike Moroney
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