Objectives: The objectives were to study long-term material wear of tracheostomy tubes made of silicone (Si), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polyurethane (PU) after 3 and 6 months of clinical use.
Study design: The study has a prospective and comparative design.
Methods: Nineteen patients with long-term tracheostomy, attending the National Respiratory Center in Sweden, were included, n = 6 with Si tubes, n = 8 with PVC tubes, and n = 5 with PU tubes. The tubes were exposed to the local environment in the trachea for 3 and 6 months and analyzed by scanning electron microscopy, attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry.
Results: All tubes revealed severe surface changes. No significant differences were established after 3 or 6 months of exposure between the various materials. The changes had progressed significantly after this period, compared to previously reported changes after 30 days of exposure. The results from all analyzing techniques correlated well.
Conclusions: All tubes, exposed in the trachea for 3-6 months, revealed major degradation and changes in the surface of the material. Polymeric tracheostomy tubes should be changed before the end of 3 months of clinical use.