Extended indications for percutaneous tracheostomy

Alon Ben Nun*, Eduard Altman, Lael Anson Best

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. In recent years, percutaneous tracheostomy has become a routine practice in many hospitals. In the early publications, most authors considered adverse conditions such as short, fat neck or obesity as relative contraindications whereas cervical injury, coagulopathy, and emergency were regarded as absolute contraindications. More recently, several reports demonstrated the feasibility of percutaneous tracheostomy in patients with some of these contraindications. The aim of this study is to determine the safety and efficacy of percutaneous tracheostomy in conditions commonly referred to as contraindications. Methods. Between June 2000 and July 2001, 157 consecutive percutaneous tracheostomy procedures were performed on 154 critically ill adult patients in the general intensive care unit of a major tertiary care facility. The Griggs technique and Portex set were used at the bedside. All procedures were performed by staff thoracic surgeons and anesthesiologists experienced with the technique. Anatomical conditions, presence of coagulopathy and anti-coagulation therapy, demographics, and complication rates were recorded. Results. Five of 157 procedures (154 patients owing to three repeat tracheostomies) had complications. In patients with normal anatomical conditions and coagulation profiles, there was one case of bleeding (50 cc to 120 cc) and one case of mild cellulitis around the stoma. In patients with adverse conditions, there was one case of bleeding (50 cc to 120 cc) and two cases of minor bleeding (< 50 cc). Conclusions. Patients with adverse conditions had a low complication rate similar to patients with normal conditions. For this reason, we believe that percutaneous tracheostomy is indicated in patients with short, fat neck; inability to perform neck extension; enlarged isthmus of thyroid; previous tracheostomy; or coagulopathy and anti-coagulation therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1276-1279
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


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