Tracheostomy after pediatric cardiac surgery: frequency, indications, and outcomes

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2011 Feb;141(2):413-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2010.06.027. Epub 2010 Jul 16.


Objectives: This study was designed to review baseline characteristics and outcomes of children requiring tracheostomy after cardiac surgery.

Methods: A retrospective review of children under age 2 requiring tracheostomy after cardiac surgery between January 1999 and December 2005 was performed. Indications for tracheostomy, survival, and completion of staged palliation were documented.

Results: After cardiac surgery, 59 (1.3%) of 4503 patients with a median age at surgery of 15 days and weight of 3.5 kg required tracheostomy. Median duration from surgery to tracheostomy was 36 days (range 10-145 days). Genetic syndromes or major noncardiac comorbidities were present in 40% of patients. Biventricular repair was performed in 34 patients and univentricular repair in 25. Tetralogy of Fallot variants (29%) and coarctation±ventricular septal defect (21%) constituted the majority of biventricular lesions associated with tracheostomy, whereas unbalanced atrioventricular septal defect and hypoplastic left heart syndrome with highly restrictive atrial septal defect accounted for 52% of the single ventricle group. Indications for tracheostomy included the following: multifactorial (37%), tracheobronchomalacia, (24%), cardiac (12%), bilateral vocal cord paralysis (10%), bilateral diaphragm paralysis (2%), and other airway issues (15%). Hospital survival was 75% with intermediate-term (median, 25.5 months; range, 1-122 months) survival of 53%. Of 25 single ventricle patients, 6 (24%) had successful completion of the Fontan procedure. Of 12 patients with single ventricle who were ventilator-dependent after initial repair, 10 died, 1 remains at hemi-Fontan, and 1 has undergone completion of the Fontan procedure.

Conclusions: Requirement for tracheostomy in pediatric patients after cardiac surgery was associated with significant mortality. Patients with single ventricle have the highest late death rate and those with chronic ventilator dependency were unlikely to undergo successful Fontan completion.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures* / mortality
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • Palliative Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Tracheostomy* / adverse effects
  • Tracheostomy* / mortality
  • Treatment Outcome