A tracheostomy opens a direct airway into the neck. Its prevalence in long-term care is increasing, and some providers assert that early tracheostomy in mechanically ventilated patients may decrease complications and reduce morbidity. In the emergency setting, a tracheostomy can save lives when other airway management strategies fail. Like all medical procedures, a tracheostomy presents specific advantages and disadvantages. Here’s what you need to know to make a decision.