Objectives: To assess the impact of percutaneous dilational tracheostomy in coronavirus disease 2019 patients requiring mechanical ventilation and the risk for healthcare providers.
Design: Prospective cohort study; patients were enrolled between March 11, and April 29, 2020. The date of final follow-up was July 30, 2020. We used a propensity score matching approach to compare outcomes. Study outcomes were formulated before data collection and analysis.
Setting: Critical care units at two large metropolitan hospitals in New York City.
Patients: Five-hundred forty-one patients with confirmed severe coronavirus disease 2019 respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation.
Interventions: Bedside percutaneous dilational tracheostomy with modified visualization and ventilation.
Measurements and main results: Required time for discontinuation off mechanical ventilation, total length of hospitalization, and overall patient survival. Of the 541 patients, 394 patients were eligible for a tracheostomy. One-hundred sixteen were early percutaneous dilational tracheostomies with median time of 9 days after initiation of mechanical ventilation (interquartile range, 7-12 d), whereas 89 were late percutaneous dilational tracheostomies with a median time of 19 days after initiation of mechanical ventilation (interquartile range, 16-24 d). Compared with patients with no tracheostomy, patients with an early percutaneous dilational tracheostomy had a higher probability of discontinuation from mechanical ventilation (absolute difference, 30%; p < 0.001; hazard ratio for successful discontinuation, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.34-5.84; p = 0.006) and a lower mortality (absolute difference, 34%, p < 0.001; hazard ratio for death, 0.11; 95% CI, 0.06-0.22; p < 0.001). Compared with patients with late percutaneous dilational tracheostomy, patients with early percutaneous dilational tracheostomy had higher discontinuation rates from mechanical ventilation (absolute difference 7%; p < 0.35; hazard ratio for successful discontinuation, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.01-2.3; p = 0.04) and had a shorter median duration of mechanical ventilation in survivors (absolute difference, -15 d; p < 0.001). None of the healthcare providers who performed all the percutaneous dilational tracheostomies procedures had clinical symptoms or any positive laboratory test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection.
Conclusions: In coronavirus disease 2019 patients on mechanical ventilation, an early modified percutaneous dilational tracheostomy was safe for patients and healthcare providers and associated with improved clinical outcomes.
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