Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the rates of tracheotomy tube placement and subsequent decannulation in all admissions to a single-site, tertiary newborn intensive care unit (NICU).
Methods: Records from total admissions to a tertiary single-site NICU between January 1, 1991, and December 31, 2002, were retrospectively analyzed. Long-term medical follow-up for this cohort included data through September 1, 2003. All patients were analyzed for occurrence of tracheotomy tube placement and decannulation, airway procedures, and comorbidities.
Results: There were 10,428 total NICU admissions during the 12-year study period. Seventy-eight (0.7%) of these patients underwent tracheotomy tube placement. Sixty-six of these 78 (85%) infants survived. None of the 12 deaths were related to tracheotomy tube placement. The most common indications for tracheotomy tube placement were subglottic stenosis (32%), chronic lung disease (28%), craniofacial abnormality (14%), chronic ventilator dependency (11%), and a neurologic disorder (8%). Decannulation was achieved in 41 of 66 (62%) survivors. Patients who failed decannulation had a major neurologic disorder, underlying pulmonary disorder, or both.
Conclusion: A baseline tracheotomy tube placement rate of 0.7% was observed in this single-site tertiary NICU setting. Decannulation was accomplished early in life in two thirds of the surviving infants. Those infants failing decannulation had either severe underlying pulmonary or neurologic disorders.