Use of tracheostomy in the PICU among patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation

Martin K Wakeham, Evelyn M Kuhn, K Jane Lee, Michael C McCrory, Matthew C Scanlon
Intensive Care Medicine 2014, 40 (6): 863-70

PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study is to describe the use of tracheostomy, specifically frequency, timing (in relation to initiation of mechanical ventilation), and associated factors, in a large cohort of children admitted to North American pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) and requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation.

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study. De-identified data were obtained from the VPS(LLC) database, a multi-site, clinical PICU database. Admissions between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2011 were enrolled in the study if the patient required mechanical ventilation for at least 72 h and did not have a tracheostomy tube at initiation of mechanical ventilation.

RESULTS: A total of 13,232 PICU admissions from 82 PICUs were analyzed in the study; of these, 872 (6.6 %) had a tracheostomy tube inserted after initiation of mechanical ventilation. The rate varied significantly (0-13.4 %, p < 0.001) among the 45 PICUs that had 100 or more admissions included in the study. The median time to insertion of a tracheostomy tube was 14.4 days (IQR 7.4-25.7), and it also varied significantly by unit (4.3-30.4 days, p < 0.001) among those that performed at least ten tracheostomies included in the study.

CONCLUSIONS: There is significant variation in both the frequency and time to tracheostomy between the studied PICUs for patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation; among those who received a tracheostomy, the majority did so after two or more weeks of mechanical ventilation. Future studies examining tracheostomy benefits, disadvantages, outcomes, and resource utilization of this patient subgroup are indicated.

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