The word “stoma” comes from the Greek, and means “opening” or “mouth”. In medicine, artificially created openings are called “stoma” (e.g. colostoma = artificial intestinal opening). By the same token, an artificial opening of the wind pipe (trachea) is called a tracheostoma. A tracheostoma is made following surgical removal of the larynx (laryngectomy) by suturing the upper end of the wind pipe to the skin of the neck.

Tracheostomy tube

A tracheostomy tube is a little pipe that is inserted in a tracheostoma to keep it open. Tracheostomy tubes are available in various materials (PVC, silver, silicone etc.), in lots of different designs (with or without a cuff, sieved or unsieved, with an inner cannula or without etc.) and with lots of different functions (as a speaking cannula, aspiration protection etc.).


The same principle as the cuff on a sleeve. In tracheostomy tubes, the cuff is a small balloon at the bottom end of the tube. When inflated, it seals the wind pipe from the tracheostomy tube, thereby preventing the aspiration of saliva or bits of food. The inflation of the cuff is also known as “blocking”.


HME is the abbreviation for Heat and Moisture Exchanger. In medicine, HMEs are used to moisten and humidify the air in artificial ventilation. The air exhaled by the patient is guided through an HME to remove warmth and humidity from it. The inhaled air is warmed and moistened by the HME in a countercurrent. The same effect is used is tracheotomised patients.