A systematic review of the literature on the role of tracheostomy in COVID-19 patients

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2020 Dec;24(23):12558-12574. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202012_24053.


The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a viral infection caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which emerged in East Asia and spread around the world from December 2019. The most severe stage of COVID-19 pathology is characterized by respiratory distress requiring intubation. In specific cases, tracheostomy is indicated to ensure the safety of the procedure. The aim of our study was to analyze the scientific literature identifying the indications for tracheostomy and safety precautions to reduce contamination. We analyzed the literature from February 2003 to April 2020, including papers on pandemics of other coronaviruses, such As Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 1 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, to obtain a variety of relevant information. We focused on indications for tracheostomy in patients affected by COVID-19 or related viruses and the measures adopted to perform a safe procedure. We included 35 papers, of which 24 (68.57%) discussed guidelines for tracheostomy indications. All 35 studies discussed the procedures for performing tracheostomy safely. Data obtained indicated that the authors generally agreed on safety measures but expressed different opinions about indications. Therefore, we provided guidelines addressing safety recommendations. After the pandemic has been resolved, we plan to conduct an international retrospective study to identify the criteria for tracheostomy indications.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management / methods
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control
  • COVID-19 / therapy*
  • COVID-19 / transmission
  • Coronavirus Infections
  • Eye Protective Devices
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control
  • N95 Respirators
  • Patient Isolators
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Respiratory Protective Devices
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • Time Factors
  • Tracheostomy / methods*