Tracheostomy decannulation: marathons and finish lines

Crit Care. 2008;12(2):128. doi: 10.1186/cc6833. Epub 2008 Mar 31.


Critically ill patients with a tracheostomy who are recovering from respiratory failure eventually require evaluation for airway decannulation. Although expert recommendations guide decisions for managing decannulation, few if any investigative data exist to inform evidence-based care. Consequently, practice variation limits the effectiveness of weaning from tracheostomy. In an investigation reported in this issue of Critical Care, the authors surveyed experienced physicians and respiratory therapists to assess their opinions on managing airway decannulation and identified several clinical factors that they recommend for selecting patients for tracheostomy tube removal. The authors propose that these factors can assist with designing clinical trials of tracheostomy decannulation. Pending completion of such studies, this report underscores the problem of practice variation in managing tracheotomized patients after critical illness. An important implication of the study is that care providers should recognize our knowledge deficit and develop systematic protocols for improving patient care using quality improvement techniques. Such models exist in the literature for adult patients and for children with tracheostomies who are managed by expert teams with requisite knowledge and skills.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Consciousness
  • Cough / classification
  • Device Removal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialization
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tracheostomy / statistics & numerical data*