Tracheostomy on infants born in the periviable period: Outcomes at discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

Kevin D Pereira, Taylor B Teplitzky, Karen B Zur, Diego A Preciado, Jenna W Briddell, Dina El Metwally, Amal Isaiah
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2021 April 27, 146: 110746

OBJECTIVES: Advances in neonatal intensive care have allowed successful resuscitation of children born at the border of viability. However, there has been little change in the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and anatomical upper airway obstruction which may require a tracheostomy in that group. The benefits of the procedure are accompanied by sequelae that impact outcomes. Information about these issues can assist caregivers in making decisions and planning care after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The objectives of this study were to describe the clinical characteristics of neonates born in the periviable period (≤25 weeks gestation) requiring tracheotomy and to highlight their hospital course, complications and status upon NICU discharge.

METHODS: Retrospective analysis at four tertiary care academic children's hospitals. Medical records of neonates born ≤25 weeks gestation who required tracheotomy between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2018 were reviewed. Demographics, medical comorbidities, and tracheostomy related complications were studied. Feeding, ventilation, and neurodevelopmental outcomes at time of transfer from NICU were evaluated.

RESULTS: Fifty-two patients were included. The mean gestational age was 24.3 (95% confidence interval, 24.1 to 24.5) weeks. The mean birth weight was 635 (95% CI: 603 to 667) grams and 50 (96.2%) children had BPD. At time of discharge from the NICU, 47 (90.4%) required mechanical ventilation, four (7.7%) required supplemental oxygen and one (1.9%) was weaned to room air. Forty-two (80.8%) were discharged with a gastrostomy tube, seven (28%) with a nasogastric tube, and three (5.8%) were on oral feeds. Two (3.8%) suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, 27 (51.9%) had neurodevelopmental delay, seven (13.5%) were diagnosed with another anomaly, and 16 (30.8%) were considered normal. Complications related to the procedure were observed in 28 (53.8%) neonates. Granulation tissue was seen in 17 (32.7%), wound break down or cellulitis in three (5.8%), one (1.9%) with tracheostomy plugging, three (5.8%) with dislodgement of the tracheostomy tube and four (7.7%) developed tracheitis.

CONCLUSIONS: Tracheostomy in infants born in the periviable period is primarily performed for BPD and portends extended ventilatory dependence. It is associated with non-oral alimentation at the time of discharge from the NICU and developmental delay. Mortality directly related to the procedure is rare. Minor complications are common but do not require surgical intervention. These data may aid in counseling caregivers about the procedure in this vulnerable population.

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