Indications for tracheostomy in children

Paediatr Respir Rev. 2006 Sep;7(3):162-8. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2006.06.004. Epub 2006 Aug 4.


Vaccination programs, improvements in material engineering and anaesthetic skills have dramatically reduced the number of emergency tracheostomies performed for acute upper airway obstruction. Today, the indication to tracheotomise a child is generally ruled by the anticipation of long-term (cardio)respiratory compromise due to chronic ventilatory or, more rarely, cardiac insufficiency, or by the presence of a fixed upper airway obstruction that is unlikely to resolve for a significant period of time. As many of the younger candidates for tracheostomy have complex medical conditions, the indication for this intervention is often complicated by ethical, funding and socio-economic concerns that necessitate a multidisciplinary approach. Unfortunately, these considerations are frequently not made until the first catastrophe has occurred, even in those patients in whom imminent cardiorespiratory failure has been foreseeable. Non-invasive ventilation via a face mask and newer developments such as the in-exsufflator device have gained importance as an alternative to tracheostomy in selected patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy
  • Trachea / pathology
  • Tracheostomy / methods*
  • Tracheostomy / standards*