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BACKGROUND: The modalities of tracheostomy for critically ill patients are still controversially discussed. Although the use of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (PDT) is generally accepted to be a safe procedure, it is still not considered to be suitable for patients requiring a permanent tracheostomy.
METHODS: This was an observational cohort study investigating long-term outcome parameters of PDT. All patients having received a PDT at the interdisciplinary ICU at the University of Leipzig between October 2008 and August 2009 that survived to discharge were asked for consent to participate (n = 103). Baseline data, admitting diagnosis, reasons for tracheostomy, and timing for tracheostomy were recorded. Subjects and medical providers were asked for neurological outcome, adverse events, and personal discomfort related to the tracheostomy. The study period was 2 y from the time of tracheostomy.
RESULTS: Seventy-one subjects were finally included in the survey. Data of 8 subjects (11%) were incomplete. Reasons for tracheostomy were the need for long-term ventilation (42%), weaning (31%), and neurological deficits (27%). No severe adverse events were registered. Sixty-five percent of all subjects could finally be decannulated. Two subjects remained with their initial tracheostomy, and in 5 subjects (7%) tracheostomy was modified to a surgical tracheostomy. Thirty-seven percent of subjects died during the 2 y. Twenty-five of the surviving subjects (35%) had only minor or moderate neurological and psychological deficits. Complaints were mostly connected to swallowing and breathing.
CONCLUSIONS: Decannulations after PDT are easily done. Complications after PDT requiring a transformation to a surgical tracheostomy are rare. Elective surgical conversions are not necessary.
- Correspondence: Maria Theresa Voelker MD, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University of Leipzig, Liebigstrasse 20, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany. E-mail: .
The authors have disclosed no conflicts of interest.
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