Laryngotracheal separation is a surgery performed to treat patients with chronic aspiration. In chronic aspiration food or saliva contents go between the vocal folds into the trachea or windpipe, leading to multiple lung infections or pneumonias.
In a laryngotracheal separation the trachea is divided into two portions. The superior, or upper portion nearest the vocal folds is surgically closed off. The inferior, or bottom portion of the trachea closest to the lungs is attached to the skin
After this surgery a patient breathes through the neck and will require alternative means of producing voice. This surgery is technically reversible – however, returning the anatomy to normal is difficult and sometimes impossible afterwards.