Bedside ultrasound screening for pretracheal vascular structures may minimize the risks of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy

Neurocrit Care. 2009 Dec;11(3):372-6. doi: 10.1007/s12028-009-9259-z. Epub 2009 Aug 13.


Background and purpose: Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (PDT) continues to gain in popularity as a bedside method for tracheostomy placement in the intensive care unit. Here, we present a description of ultrasound technique and two case examples to show the utility of bedside ultrasound screening to select patients with appropriate anatomy for PDT.

Methods: We have instituted a protocol at our institution to use bedside screening ultrasound to confirm appropriate anatomy prior to PDT. In this report, we present our ultrasound methodology and present two cases with clear correlations between screening ultrasound findings and intraoperative findings.

Results: We describe an easily applied method for pretracheal ultrasound screening. To show the utility of this screening technique, we then present two example cases showing pretracheal vascular structures seen on ultrasound and during open operative exploration.

Conclusion: Bedside ultrasound screening allows for easy identification of pretracheal vascular structures that might pose a hemorrhage risk during PDT.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Dilatation / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / therapy*
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Trachea / blood supply
  • Trachea / diagnostic imaging
  • Trachea / surgery
  • Tracheostomy / adverse effects
  • Tracheostomy / methods*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*