Objective: Surgical tracheostomy in critically ill adults has largely been replaced by physicians performing percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (PDT) at the bedside. Complications associated with this technique include haemorrhage, wound infection, barotrauma, false passage, ruptured tracheal ring and bacteraemia. Prophylactic antibiotics are not generally used with this procedure, however the incidence of bacteraemia following PDT has not been extensively studied.
Design: Prospective observational study.
Setting: Adult intensive care unit of a university medical centre.
Methods: Peripheral venous blood cultures were obtained immediately before and after PDT in 118 consecutive patients. Surveillance cultures of potential respiratory pathogens were also recorded using routine non-directed broncholalveolar lavage.
Results: Forty-three female and 75 male patients underwent PDT. Fifty-seven patients (48.3%) were not receiving antibiotics on the day of PDT, whilst the remaining 61 individuals (51.7%) were on antibiotic therapy at the time of the procedure. Bacteraemia following PDT occurred in six out of 113 patients (5.3%), five of which occurred in patients not receiving antibiotics (9.2%). Unexpected bacteraemia (positive pre-and post PDT blood cultures) was identified in five patients, two of whom were on antibiotic therapy.
Conclusion: The incidence of bacteraemia following a single stage PDT was similar to other manipulations of the aerodigestive tract such as intubation, insertion of an LMA or tooth brushing. We suggest that routine antibiotic prophylaxis is unnecessary for this procedure.