Surveillance and management practices in tracheotomy patients

Laryngoscope. 2012 Jan;122(1):46-50. doi: 10.1002/lary.22375.


Objectives/hypothesis: To ascertain the surveillance and management practices for tracheotomy patients.

Study design: Survey of tracheotomy management.

Methods: An electronically distributed 26-question survey was distributed under the auspices of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.

Results: There were 478 responses. The mean number of years in practice was 21.2 years (standard deviation [SD], 11.0 years). Sixty-five percent of respondents perform mainly adult tracheotomy. There is variation in surveillance patterns of immediate, postoperative, intermediate, and long-term surveillance. On average, respondents follow a fresh tracheotomy daily for about 6 days, monthly for about 3 months, and long-term surveillance every 4 months on average. Almost all respondents perform long-term surveillance during routine tracheotomy changes; 61.4% perform this surveillance with an endoscope, and a minority rely on history and examination. The mean frequency of tracheotomy tube changes was 2 months (SD, 2.2 months; median, 1.1 month; range, 0.06-12 months). Two hundred sixty-one respondents have or have used a decannulation algorithm. The vast majority, 96.2%, are comfortable with their current management practices. Over half of the respondents perceive value in a clinical practice guideline to help them with standardizing care, and 80% of respondents feel that it would assist other specialties in the care and surveillance of tracheotomy patients.

Conclusions: There is marked variability in the surveillance and management of tracheotomy patients. There exists opportunity to improve care through standardization of surveillance and management of these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare / standards*
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tracheotomy / standards*