Early vs. late tracheostomy in ventilated COVID-19 patients – A retrospective study

Nir Livneh*, Jobran Mansour, Reut Kassif Lerner, Gilad Feinmesser, Eran Alon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Tracheostomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed on ventilated COVID-19 patients, yet the appropriate timing for operating is controversial. Objectives: Assessing the effect of early tracheostomy on mortality and decannulation; elucidating changes in ventilation parameters, vasopressors and sedatives dosages immediately following the procedure. Methods: A retrospective cohort of 38 ventilated COVID-19 patients, 19 of them (50%) underwent tracheostomy within 7 days of intubation (early tracheostomy group) and the rest underwent tracheostomy after 8 days or more (late tracheostomy group). Results: Decannulation rates were significantly higher while mortality rates were non-significantly lower in the early tracheostomy group compared with the late tracheostomy group (58% vs 21% p < 0.05; 42% vs 74% p = 0.1, respectively). Tidal volume increased (446 ml vs 483 ml; p = 0.02) while PEEP (13 cmH20 vs 11.6 cmH2O, p = 0.04) decreased at the immediate time following the procedure. No staff member participating in the procedures was infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus. Conclusion: Early tracheostomy might offer improved outcomes with higher decannulation rates and lower mortality rates in ventilated COVID-19 patients, yet larger scale studies are needed. Most likely, early exposure to COVID-19 patients with appropriate personal protective equipment during open tracheostomy does not put the surgical team at risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103102
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Decannulation
  • PPE
  • Tracheostomy
  • Ventilation


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