Tracheostomy: indications and complications in paediatric patients

Rev Port Pneumol. 2009 Mar-Apr;15(2):227-39.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Despite advances in non-invasive ventilation techniques, tracheostomy is still indicated in children with serious airway obstruction or with the need for long-term ventilation. Alternatives should be studied before deciding to tracheostomise as complications exist, despite the simple procedure. The aims of this study were the identification of tracheostomised children followed in a tertiary care paediatric department, the characterisation of primary disease, the indications leading to tracheostomy and any complications. We present a case review of tracheostomised children followed in our department. Sixteen tracheostomised children were followed, median age of 4.5 months, neuromuscular disease - 5, cerebral palsy - 3 and pulmonary or airway disease - 7. Indications were long-term invasive ventilation - 12, subglottic or tracheal stenosis - 3 and laryngomalacia - 1. The most frequent complications found were persistent bacterial colonisation, accidental decannulation and obstruction. There was a tracheostomy- related death in 1 child.

Outcome: 9 children maintained tracheostomy, 5 were successfully decannulated and 2 children died while on tracheostomy. Tracheostomised children usually have complex disease that requires a multidisciplinary team and should be followed-up at a specialised reference centre.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tracheostomy* / adverse effects