Endoscopic percutaneous dilatational tracheotomy: a prospective evaluation of 500 consecutive cases

Karen M Kost
Laryngoscope 2005, 115 (10 Pt 2): 1-30

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: An evaluation of 500 adult, intubated, intensive care unit patients undergoing endoscopic percutaneous tracheotomy using the multiple and single dilator techniques was conducted to assess the feasibility and safety of the procedure as it compares with surgical tracheotomy. Endoscopy was used in all cases and evaluated as an added safety measure in reducing complications.

STUDY DESIGN: A prospective evaluation of endoscopic percutaneous dilatational tracheotomy in 500 consecutive adult, intubated intensive care unit patients.

METHODS: Between 1990 and 2003, endoscopically guided percutaneous dilatational tracheotomy (PDT) was performed in 500 consecutive adult, intubated patients in the intensive care units (ICU) of three tertiary care adult hospitals. The first 191 patients underwent PDT using the Ciaglia Percutaneous Tracheostomy Introducer Kit (Cook Critical Care Inc., Bloomington, Indiana) and in the remaining 309 patients the Ciaglia Blue Rhino Single Dilator Kit (Cook Critical Care Inc., Bloomington, Indiana) was used. The procedure was contraindicated in the following situations: 1) children, 2) unprotected airway, 3) emergencies, 4) presence of a midline neck mass, 5) inability to palpate the cricoid cartilage, and 6) uncorrectable coagulopathy. The following parameters were recorded preoperatively: age, sex, diagnosis, American Society of Anesthesia (ASA) class, body mass index (BMI), and number of days intubated. Recorded hematologic parameters included hemoglobin (Hgb), platelets, prothrombin time (PT), partial thromboplastin time (PTT), and the international normalized ratio (INR) since it became available in 1998. All patients were ventilated on 100% oxygen and vital signs were continuously monitored. Tracheotomy was carried out under continuous endoscopic guidance using a series of graduated dilators in the first 191 cases, and a single, tapered dilator in the remaining 309 patients. The preoperative data on each patient, along with the type of dilator used, the size of the tube, the intraoperative and postoperative complications, and blood loss information were recorded prospectively and maintained in a computer spreadsheet. Univariate analyses were used in each group separately for each type of dilator to assess the risks of a complication within subgroups defined by each parameter/characteristic, and the statistical significance assessed with a chi test, or Fisher exact test.

RESULTS: The total complication rate was 9.2% (13.6% in the multiple dilator group, and 6.5% in the single dilator group), with more than half of these considered minor. Overall, the two most common complications were oxygen desaturation in 14 cases and bleeding in 12 cases. The absence of serious complications such as pneumothorax and pneumomediastinum are attributable to the use of bronchoscopy. There was no significant association between the rate of complications and age, gender, ASA, weeks intubated, tracheostomy tube size, Hgb levels, platelets, PT, PTT, or INR. There was a statistically significant relationship between experience and the likelihood of complications in the multiple dilator group (P < .0001), with a higher rate of complications in the first 30 patients (40%) compared with 8.7% in the remaining 161 patients. This relationship did not exist for the first 30 patients in the single dilator group. Patients with a BMI of 30 or higher experienced a significantly greater (P < .05) number of complications (15%), compared with an 8% complication rate in patients with a BMI of less than 30. This risk was even more significant for patients with a BMI of 30 or greater who were also in ASA class 4 (11/56 or 20%) (P < .02).

CONCLUSIONS: Endoscopic PDT is associated with a low complication rate and is at least as safe as surgical tracheotomy in the ICU setting. Bronchoscopy significantly decreases the incidence of complications and should be used routinely. While embraced by critical care physicians, endoscopic PDT has been infrequently performed by otolaryngologists. As the airway experts, otolaryngologists are in the best position to learn and teach the procedure as it should be done.

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