Indexed on: 05 Jun '10Published on: 05 Jun '10Published in: European Journal of Anaesthesiology
Tracheostomy is performed in about a quarter of ICU patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation, weaning from assisted ventilation, airway suction and airway protection. Tracheostomy improves patient comfort compared with standard intubation. Tracheostomy performed early upon ICU admission has not shown survival benefits. Percutaneous dilatational techniques are commonly used because the procedure can be performed at the bedside. Surgical tracheostomy is often reserved for cases with abnormal anatomy or failed percutaneous tracheostomy. It is not known which of the percutaneous techniques is safer in terms of perioperative complications. Ultrasound scanning of the neck and routine endoscopy during the procedure appear to reduce early complications. Decannulation is often delayed and an intensivist-led follow-up may facilitate timely removal of tracheostomy tubes in step down areas or wards.