Objective: To evaluate perioperative mortality after tracheostomy in intensive care unit (ICU) patients undergoing routine tracheostomy over a 10-month period.
Study design: Case series with planned data collection.
Setting: Tertiary care hospital.
Subjects: Mechanically ventilated patients.
Methods: Prospective analysis of ICU patients undergoing tracheostomy placement over 10 months was performed. Variables evaluated were demographics, pretracheostomy length of stay, time on ventilator, time to death, preoperative comorbidities, and cause of death.
Results: There were 129 consultations resulting in 115 tracheostomies, of which 100 were included for study. The overall 30-day postoperative mortality rate was 25%, including palliative care deaths. Cause of death in all cases was due to a preexisting condition and not from tracheostomy. Patients who died within the 30-day postoperative period were found to have significant differences in age, pretracheostomy length of stay, location of tracheostomy, and preoperative comorbidity scores. No significant difference was found in time on ventilator, sex, or race/ethnicity. Mean time from consultation to tracheostomy was 2.5 days (range, 0-12 days).
Conclusion: High rates of mortality after tracheostomy can possibly affect hospital quality ratings for surgical services. There were no deaths directly related to surgery. Despite this, the mortality rate in this population was quite high. This illustrates the significant disease burden in these patients and the need to stratify postoperative mortality as well as to consider comorbidity and age when evaluating patients for tracheostomy.