Transtracheal Oxygen Therapy

Reviewed by Cheryl Torres, RRT, Michael D. Schwartz, MD, FCCM
An alternative to a nasal canula transtracheal oxygen (TTOT). Transtracheal oxygen therapyis a method used to deliver oxygen directly to the lungs. It is used to treat chronic hypoxemia (low blood oxygen).

A small plastic catheter is surgically placed in your neck and sits in your windpipe (trachea). Oxygen is delivered through the catheter directly into your windpipe. The procedure should not be confused with a tracheotomy; they are entirely different.

TTOT has been shown to reduce oxygen flow requirements by as much as 55 percent at rest and 30 percent during exercise. Because less oxygen is required, portable oxygen systems last longer, and people can use smaller and lighter units.

When Is TTOT Considered?

TTO is considered for any person who is on long-term oxygen therapy and desires an improvement in oxygen requirements. Talk to your health care provider about whether TTO is a good option for you.

Suggested candidates for TTOT include people who:

  • Meet current guidelines for long-term oxygen therapy

  • Are currently active in and outside of the home

  • Comply with oxygen therapy and can provide proper care of their catheter.


What are the benefits of TTOT?

TTOT can improve quality of life for people who have a chronic lung disease. Examples are:


TTOT can:

  • Reduce the amount of oxygen flow needed to achieve healthy oxygen levels

  • Improve activity levels and mobility

  • Improve exercise capacity

  • Improve physical, social and mental function

  • Improve the response to oxygen treatment

  • Reduce length of hospitalization.

  • Relieve irritation from the nasal cannula

  • Allow you to “hide” your oxygen tubing under your clothes.

As with any medical procedure, there are risks involved. Consult with your health care
provider about these risks.


The Role of National Jewish Health

National Jewish Health offers a Transtracheal Oxygen Program. Our care team can evaluate and manage patients for whom transtracheal oxygen may be a good option for their long-term oxygen therapy. Talk with your health care provider if you have questions or are interested in TTOT. 


This information was approved by Michael D. Schwartz, MD, and Cheryl Torres, RRT, (September 2017)


Programs & Services

    Thousands of patients come to us from around the world to team with our expert physicians and researchers and seek treatment for respiratory, cardiac, immune and related conditions. Search our treatment programs.

Clinical Trials

For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.