Care of pediatric tracheostomy in the immediate postoperative period and timing of first tube change

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 Dec;78(12):2281-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2014.10.034. Epub 2014 Nov 3.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intubation
  • Male
  • Postoperative Care / adverse effects
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Diseases / etiology*
  • Surgical Flaps / adverse effects
  • Time Factors
  • Tracheostomy* / adverse effects
  • Tracheotomy / adverse effects
  • Tracheotomy / methods*