The trachea, or windpipe, is a hollow tube which connects the throat to the lungs. The trachea is approximately 2 cm in diameter and 10-15 centimeters in length. Cartilage rings make up the wall of the trachea, providing support allowing the trachea to remain open, allowing for the passage of air.
This is a view of the trachea from the inside. Note the circular cartilaginous “rings” that make up the wall of the trachea.
The trachea may be felt in some individuals in the lower neck below the thyroid cartilage.
Tracheal stenosis is a condition in which a person’s trachea is abnormally narrowed, usually as a result of trauma. Tracheal stenosis may result in loud and noisy breathing. Those affected may also have difficulty breathing.
A tracheotomy is a surgical procedure in which a hollow tube is inserted into the trachea through the skin of the neck. This may be performed for patients who need to be on a ventilator for a prolonged period of time or for individuals with an upper airway obstruction such as laryngeal cancer or tracheal stenosis.