Duration of tracheostomy dependence and development of tracheocutaneous fistula in children

Laryngoscope. 2017 Dec;127(12):2709-2712. doi: 10.1002/lary.26718. Epub 2017 Aug 12.


Objective: To determine whether the risk of developing a tracheocutaneous fistula (TCF) increases with longer tracheostomy dependence times in children.

Study design: Retrospective review of medical records.

Method: A retrospective chart review was conducted for all children who both underwent tracheotomy and were decannulated between 2002 and 2011 at a tertiary children's hospital. Charts were analyzed for duration of tracheostomy and evidence of TCF up to 12 months. Data for these criteria was available on 164 out of 182 patients.

Results: A significant difference in the duration of tracheostomy dependence between children with and without resultant TCF was determined by the Wilcoxon signed rank test (P = 0.0003). The relative risk (RR) of a persistent TCF was significantly increased when the duration of tracheostomy dependence was greater than 24 months (RR = 2.5217, P < 0.005) when compared to those decannulated before 12 months. The mean tracheostomy dependence times for children with and without TCF were 33.1 and 23.4 months, respectively. Overall, 94 children (57.3%) developed a TCF.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this study represents the largest collection of data for children who have been decannulated following tracheostomy placement. These data demonstrate that the risk of developing a TCF increases with longer tracheostomy dependence times in children.

Level of evidence: 4. Laryngoscope, 127:2709-2712, 2017.

Keywords: Pediatric tracheostomy; decannulation; tracheocutaneous fistula; tracheotomy.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cutaneous Fistula / epidemiology*
  • Cutaneous Fistula / etiology
  • Device Removal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Tracheal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Tracheal Diseases / etiology
  • Tracheostomy* / adverse effects