Objective: To analyze the safety of a standardized pediatric tracheostomy care protocol in the immediate postoperative period and its impact on tracheostomy related complications.
Study design: Retrospective case series.
Subjects: Pediatric patients undergoing tracheotomy from February 2010-February 2014.
Methods: In 2012, a standardized protocol was established regarding postoperative pediatric tracheostomy care. This protocol included securing newly placed tracheostomy tubes using a foam strap with hook and loop fastener rather than twill ties, placing a fresh drain sponge around the tracheostomy tube daily, and performing the first tracheostomy tube change on postoperative day 3 or 4. Outcome measures included rate of skin breakdown and presence of a mature stoma allowing for a safe first tracheostomy tube change. Two types of tracheotomy were performed based on patient age: standard pediatric tracheotomy and adult-style tracheotomy with a Bjork flap. Patients were analyzed separately based on age and the type of tracheotomy performed.
Results: Thirty-seven patients in the pre-protocol group and 35 in the post-protocol group were analyzed. The rate of skin breakdown was significantly lower in the post-protocol group (standard: p=0.0048; Bjork flap: p=0.0003). In the post-protocol group, all tube changes were safely accomplished on postoperative day three or four, and the stomas were deemed to be adequately matured to do so in all cases.
Conclusion: A standardized postoperative pediatric tracheostomy care protocol resulted in decreased rates of skin breakdown and demonstrated that pediatric tracheostomy tubes can be safely changed as early as 3 days postoperatively.
Keywords: Complications; Pediatric tracheostomy; Skin breakdown; Standardization of care; Tracheostomy tube change.
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