, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 222-228
Date: 13 Nov 2007

A brief history of tracheostomy and tracheal intubation, from the Bronze Age to the Space Age

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To present a concise history of tracheostomy and tracheal intubation for the approximately forty centuries from their earliest description around 2000 BC until the middle of the twentieth century, at which time a proliferation of advances marked the beginning of the modern era of anesthesiology.

Data sources

Review of the literature.


The colorful and checkered past of tracheostomy and tracheal intubation informs contemporary understanding of these procedures. Often, the decision whether to perform a life-saving tracheostomy or tracheal intubation has been as important as the technical ability to perform it. The dawn of modern airway management owes its existence to the historical development of increasingly effective airway devices and to regular contributions of research into the pathophysiology of the upper airway.

There is no conflict of interest.