A tracheotomy is the surgical opening of the trachea. This may be necessary if the trachea becomes occluded through inflammation, excessive secretion, trauma, or aspiration of a foreign object. This procedure may be performed to create an emergency opening into the trachea so that ventilation can still occur. A tracheostomy involves the insertion of a tube into the trachea to permit breathing and to keep the passageway open.
A tracheostomy involves opening an airway through the throat in an emergency when a patient cannot breath normally. (From Cohen, B. J. Medical Terminology. 4th Ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2003.)