Pediatric tracheotomies: changing indications and outcomes

J D Carron, C S Derkay, G L Strope, J E Nosonchuk, D H Darrow
Laryngoscope 2000, 110 (7): 1099-104

OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: To study the outcomes and complications associated with pediatric tracheotomy, as well as the changing trend in indications and outcomes since 1970.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective chart review at a major tertiary care children's hospital.

METHODS: On children who underwent tracheotomy at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (Norfolk, VA) between 1988 and 1998, inpatient and outpatient records were reviewed. Of 218 tracheotomies, sufficient data were available on 204. Indications for tracheotomy were placed into the following six groups: craniofacial abnormalities (13%), upper airway obstruction (19%), prolonged intubation (26%), neurological impairment (27%), trauma (7%), and vocal fold paralysis (7%).

RESULTS: The average age at tracheotomy was 3.2 +/- 0.6 years. Although the prolonged intubation group was significantly younger than all others, the neurological impairment and trauma groups were significantly older. Decannulation was accomplished in 41%. Time to decannulation was significantly higher in the neurological impairment and prolonged intubation groups, but was significantly shorter in the craniofacial group. Complications occurred in 44%. Overall mortality was 19%, with a 3.6% tracheotomy-related death rate. Comparison of our series to other published series of pediatric tracheotomies since 1970 shows fewer being performed for airway infections and more for chronic diseases, with a corresponding increase in duration of tracheotomy and decreased decannulation rates.

CONCLUSIONS: Tracheotomy is a procedure performed with relative frequency at tertiary care children's hospitals. While children receiving a tracheotomy have a high overall mortality, deaths are usually related to the underlying disease, not the tracheotomy itself.

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