Airway Suctioning

Why It's Needed

The trachea is lined with little hairs. Impurities and foreign bodies are trapped in the hairs (cilia). Mucus is produced. Most people are able to loosen and cough up the mucus to the mouth where it can be coughed out or swallowed. Some people with a tracheostomy cannot create enough force to do this and require suctioning to remove the mucus.

When It's Needed

Respiratory diseases, airway obstructions and breathing difficulties are potential complications associated with temporary or permanent tracheostomy in infants, children and adults alike. Airway suctioning is necessary to keep a tracheostomy tube clear and the airways free. Airway suction is also needed to clear the airways after an accident or in patients with other airway difficulties.


The main indication for suctioning airways is for patients with a tracheostomy or those with a laryngectomy. In simple terms, a tracheostomy is an artificial airway made when a person cannot breathe through the nose or mouth. The indications for performing a tracheostomy vary from either mechanical blockage of the respiratory tract to a blocking due to secretion or respiratory failure or both.

Diseases That May Require a Tracheostomy

– laryngeal cancer (often the larynx is removed: laryngectomy)
– subglottic stenosis (narrowing of the trachea in the subglottic area)
– sleep apnea (breathing disorder when sleeping)
– vocal cord paralysis (caused by trauma, cancer, tumors…)
– tracheo or laryngomalacia (collapse of the tracheal or laryngeal structures)

Which Pump Is Needed

Medela designs its airway suctioning pumps to ensure that patients’ quality of life remains as high as possible. Medela’s pumps offer rapid vacuum build-up, and they are lightweight, portable and easy for patients to use. The Vario 18 pump has been developed for hospital, clinical and home use.