Early tracheostomy improves outcomes in severely injured children and adolescents

J Pediatr Surg. 2014 Apr;49(4):590-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2013.09.002.


Background: Early tracheostomy has been advocated for adult trauma patients to improve outcomes and resource utilization. We hypothesized that timing of tracheostomy for severely injured children would similarly impact outcomes.

Methods: Injured children undergoing tracheostomy over a 10-year period (2002-2012) were reviewed. Early tracheostomy was defined as post-injury day ≤ 7. Data were compared using Student's t test, Pearson chi-squared test and Fisher exact test. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05 with 95% confidence intervals.

Results: During the 10-year study period, 91 patients underwent tracheostomy following injury. Twenty-nine (32%) patients were < 12 years old; of these, 38% received early tracheostomy. Sixty-two (68%) patients were age 13 to 18; of these, 52% underwent early tracheostomy. Patients undergoing early tracheostomy had fewer ventilator days (p=0.003), ICU days (p=0.003), hospital days (p=0.046), and tracheal complications (p=0.03) compared to late tracheostomy. There was no difference in pneumonia (p=0.48) between early and late tracheostomy.

Conclusion: Children undergoing early tracheostomy had improved outcomes compared to those who underwent late tracheostomy. Early tracheostomy should be considered for the severely injured child.

Summary: Early tracheostomy is advocated for adult trauma patients to improve patient comfort and resource utilization. In a review of 91 pediatric trauma patients undergoing tracheostomy, those undergoing tracheostomy on post-injury day ≤ 7 had fewer ventilator days, ICU days, hospital days, and tracheal complications compared to those undergoing tracheostomy after post-injury day 7.

Keywords: Pediatrics; Tracheostomy; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Injuries / surgery*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Tracheostomy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome