Objective: To examine complications of pediatric tracheostomy.
Study design: Retrospective.
Methods: Chart review of children undergoing tracheotomy or laryngeal diversion between 1990 and 1999.
Results: Charts of 142 children were examined. Average age was 2.64 years (standard deviation [SD], 4.73 y) at surgery. Duration of tracheostomy was 2.08 years (SD, 1.72 y) for those decannulated, 3.12 years (SD, 2.5 y) for those still with a stoma, and length of follow-up for the whole group was 4.14 years (SD, 8.69 y). At last follow-up, 56% had a tracheostomy, 29% had none, and 15% had died; one death was tracheostomy-related. Three percent had intraoperative complications, 11% had complications before the first tracheostomy tube change, and 63% had complications after the first tube change. Thirty-four percent had a trial of decannulation; 85% of these were successful. Fifty-four percent of those decannulated had complications. Number of complications was not related to duration of follow-up. In-hospital mortality was congruent to mortality predicted by PRISM (Pediatric Rate of Mortality) scores.
Conclusions: Forty-three percent had serious complications involving loss of the tracheostomy airway (tube occlusion or accidental decannulation) or requiring a separate surgical procedure. Deaths directly attributable to tracheostomy complications occurred in 0.7%.