Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 16 (1), 274

Tracheostomy in Stroke Patients


Tracheostomy in Stroke Patients

Julian Bösel. Curr Treat Options Neurol.


Patients with severe ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke may require tracheostomy in the course of their disease. This may apply to stroke unit patients whose deficits include a severe dysphagia posing such risk of aspiration as it cannot be sufficiently counteracted by tube feeding and swallowing therapy alone. More often, however, tracheostomy is performed in stroke patients so severely afflicted that they require intensive care unit treatment and mechanical ventilation. In these, long-term ventilation and prolonged insufficient airway protection are the main indications for tracheostomy. Accepted advantages are less pharyngeal and laryngeal lesions than with prolonged orotracheal intubation, better oral hygiene and nursing care, and higher patient comfort. Optimal timing of tracheostomy is unclear, in general, as in stroke intensive care unit patients. Potential benefits of early tracheostomy concerning ventilation duration and length of stay, respirator weaning, airway safety, rate of pneumonia, and other complications, outcome and mortality have been suggested in studies on non-neurologic subgroups of critical care patients. Stroke patients have hardly been investigated with regard to these aspects, and mainly retrospectively. A single randomized pilot trial on early tracheostomy in 60 ventilated patients with severe hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke demonstrated feasibility, safety, and less need of sedation. Regarding the technique, bedside percutaneous dilational tracheostomy should be preferred over surgical tracheostomy because of several reported advantages. As the procedural risk is low and early tracheostomy does not seem to worsen the clinical course of the ventilated stroke patient, it is reasonable to assess the need of further ventilation at the end of the first week of intensive care and proceed to tracheostomy if extubation is not feasible. Reliable prediction of prolonged ventilation need and outcome benefits of early tracheostomy, however, await further clarification. Decannulation of stroke patients after discontinued ventilation has to follow reliable confirmation of swallowing ability, as by endoscopy.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 12 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Chest. 1996 Aug;110(2):469-79 - PubMed
    1. Arch Surg. 1999 Jan;134(1):59-62 - PubMed
    1. Stroke. 2005 Dec;36(12):2756-63 - PubMed
    1. BMC Med Educ. 2009 Mar 10;9:13 - PubMed
    1. Crit Care Med. 1986 Dec;14(12):1028-31 - PubMed

LinkOut - more resources