Intraoperative Airway Management Considerations for Adult Patients Presenting With Tracheostomy: A Narrative Review

Eric B Rosero, John Corbett, Ted Mau, Girish P Joshi
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2020 December 24
Tracheotomy is a surgical procedure through which a tracheostomy, an opening into the trachea, is created. Indications for tracheostomy include facilitation of airway management during prolonged mechanical ventilation, treatment of acute upper airway obstruction when tracheal intubation is unfeasible, management of chronic upper airway obstructive conditions, and planned airway management for major head and neck surgery. Patients who have a recent or long-term tracheostomy may present for a variety of surgical or diagnostic procedures performed under general anesthesia or sedation/analgesia. Airway management of these patients can be challenging and should be planned ahead of time. Anesthesia personnel should be familiar with the different components of cuffed and uncuffed tracheostomy devices and their connectivity to the anesthesia circuits. An appropriate airway management plan should take into account the indication of the tracheostomy, the maturity status of the stoma, the type and size of tracheostomy tube, the expected patient positioning, and presence of patient's concurrent health conditions. Management of the patient with a T-tube is highlighted. Importantly, there is a need for multidisciplinary care involving anesthesiologists, surgical specialists, and perioperative nurses. The aim of this narrative review is to discuss the anesthesia care of patients with a tracheostomy. Key aspects on relevant tracheal anatomy, tracheostomy tubes/devices, alternatives of airway management, and possible complications related to tracheostomy are summarized with a recommendation for an algorithm to manage intraoperative tracheostomy tube dislodgement.

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