Set of tracheotomy instruments, mid 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Made by J Weis & Son of The Strand, London. A tracheotomy is a surgical procedure where an incision is made into the trachea (windpipe) and a tube is inserted to enable the patient to breathe. It is normally carried out when the airway above the trachea is damaged or blocked, making unasisted breathing imposible.