Postintubation injuries and open surgical tracheostomy: should we always perform isthmectomy?

J Bras Pneumol. 2009 Mar;35(3):227-33. doi: 10.1590/s1806-37132009000300006.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Objective: To evaluate the influence of the surgical team (general surgery or thoracic surgery) and the surgical technique (with or without isthmectomy) on the incidence of postintubation injuries in the airways of tracheostomized patients.

Methods: Between January 1st and August 31st, 2007, 164 patients admitted to the adult intensive care unit and tracheally intubated for more than 24 h were studied prospectively at the Sumaré State Hospital, located at the city of Sumare, Brazil. When tracheostomy was necessary, these patients were randomly assigned to thoracic or general surgery teams. All of the patients were submitted to fiberoptic tracheoscopy for decannulation or late evaluation of the airway.

Results: Of the 164 patients in the study, 90 (54.88%) died (due to causes unrelated to the procedure), 67 (40.85%) completed follow-up, and 7 (4.27%) were lost to follow-up. Of the 67 patients who completed follow-up, 32 had undergone tracheostomy (21 by the general surgery team and 11 by the thoracic surgery team), and 22 had been submitted to isthmectomy (11 by the general surgery team and 11 by the thoracic surgery team). There was no difference between the surgical teams in terms of the incidence of stomal complications. However, there was a significant difference when the surgical techniques (with or without isthmectomy) were compared.

Conclusions: Not performing isthmectomy in parallel with tracheostomy leads the surgeon to open the tracheal stoma more distally than expected. In such cases, there were more stomal complications.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / therapy
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • General Surgery* / methods
  • General Surgery* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / therapy
  • Surgical Stomas / adverse effects
  • Surgical Stomas / statistics & numerical data*
  • Thoracic Surgery* / methods
  • Thoracic Surgery* / statistics & numerical data
  • Trachea / injuries*
  • Tracheostomy / methods*
  • Tracheostomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult