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Tracheostomy cannulas and voice prosthesis

Keywords: tracheostomy cannula , voice prosthesis , tracheotomy , laryngectomy , history , design and material , function and efficiency , fixation , care , complication , duration of stay , microbial settlement , biofilms

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Cannulas and voice prostheses are mechanical aids for patients who had to undergo tracheotomy or laryngectomy for different reasons. For better understanding of the function of those artificial devices, first the indications and particularities of the previous surgical intervention are described in the context of this review. Despite the established procedure of percutaneous dilatation tracheotomy e.g. in intensive care units, the application of epithelised tracheostomas has its own position, especially when airway obstruction is persistent (e.g. caused by traumata, inflammations, or tumors) and a longer artificial ventilation or special care of the patient are required. In order to keep the airways open after tracheotomy, tracheostomy cannulas of different materials with different functions are available. For each patient the most appropriate type of cannula must be found. Voice prostheses are meanwhile the device of choice for rapid and efficient voice rehabilitation after laryngectomy. Individual sizes and materials allow adaptation of the voice prostheses to the individual anatomical situation of the patients. The combined application of voice prostheses with HME (Head and Moisture Exchanger) allows a good vocal as well as pulmonary rehabilitation. Precondition for efficient voice prosthesis is the observation of certain surgical principles during laryngectomy. The duration of the prosthesis mainly depends on material properties and biofilms, mostly consisting of funguses and bacteries. The quality of voice with valve prosthesis is clearly superior to esophagus prosthesis or electro-laryngeal voice. Whenever possible, tracheostoma valves for free-hand speech should be applied. Physicians taking care of patients with speech prostheses after laryngectomy should know exactly what to do in case the device fails or gets lost.


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