Objective: To provide an up-to-date review of pediatric tracheostomy, primarily focusing on indications, surgical technique, complications and hospital and home care.
Sources: MEDLINE and PubMed databases were searched using the following keywords: tracheostomy, tracheotomy, children, newborn.
Summary of the findings: Indications for tracheostomy in children are changing. Today the most common indication is prolonged ventilation. The age at the time of the procedure has also changed, with a peak incidence of tracheostomy in patients less than 1 year old. Except under emergency conditions, pediatric tracheostomy should be performed in the operating room with the child intubated. A horizontal skin incision with vertical tracheal incision and no tracheal resection is recommended. Although post-tracheostomy complications are not uncommon, they usually do not need special treatment or surgical procedures. Tracheostomy mortality can occur in up to 40% of pediatric cases, however the tracheostomy-related mortality rate is only 0 to 6%.
Conclusions: The decision to perform a tracheostomy remains complex, and depends on several factors. The procedure is safe and with a low number of complications if carried out at a tertiary hospital by a trained and experienced team.