Fiberoptic bronchoscopy-assisted percutaneous tracheostomy is safe in obese critically ill patients: a prospective and comparative study

J Crit Care. 2009 Dec;24(4):494-500. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2008.06.001. Epub 2008 Sep 11.


Background: Obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. In Latin America, 10% to 35% of the population is obese. Obese critically ill patients are at greater risk for requiring intubation and prolonged mechanical ventilation; and in some cases, it is necessary to perform a tracheostomy.

Objective: The objective of the study was to compare the incidence of perioperative complications associated with percutaneous tracheostomy (PT) using the fiberoptic bronchoscopy-assisted Ciaglia Blue Rhino technique (Cook Critical Care, Bloomington, IN) in obese vs nonobese critically ill patients.

Patients and method: A prospective evaluation was made of 120 patients who underwent PT because of prolonged mechanical ventilation. An analysis of the incidence of operative and early postoperative complications was performed comparing an obese patient group (n = 25) with a nonobese patient group (n = 80). Obesity was defined by a body mass index of at least 30 kg/m(2).

Results: The 2 groups had no significant differences in their demographic characteristics. The average body mass index for the obese patient group was 38 +/- 9 kg/m(2) vs 22 +/- 3 kg/m(2) for the nonobese patient group (P < .001). The obese patients required 18 +/- 7 days of mechanical ventilation, on average, before PT vs 16 +/- 7 days for the nonobese patients (P = .15). The incidence of operative complications for the obese patients vs nonobese patients was 8% and 7.5%, respectively (P = 1). The incidence of early postoperative complications was 8% for the obese patients vs 2.5% for the nonobese patients (P = .2).

Conclusion: Percutaneous tracheostomy using the fiberoptic bronchoscopy-assisted Ciaglia Blue Rhino technique is safe for obese critically ill patients when performed by an experienced intensivist.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bronchoscopy / methods*
  • Critical Illness*
  • Female
  • Fiber Optic Technology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Tracheostomy / methods*
  • Tracheostomy / statistics & numerical data*