Background: Children with end-stage liver disease and multi-organ failure, previously considered as poor surgical candidates, can now benefit from liver transplantation (LT). They often need prolonged mechanical ventilation (MV) post-LT and may need tracheostomy to advance care. Data on tracheostomy after pediatric LT are lacking.
Method: Retrospective chart review of children who required tracheostomy in the peri-LT period in a large, freestanding quaternary children's hospital from 2014 to 2019.
Results: Out of 205 total orthotopic LTs performed in 200 children, 18 (9%) required tracheostomy in the peri-transplant period: 4 (2%) pre-LT and 14 (7%) post-LT. Among those 14 needing tracheostomy post-LT, median age was 9 months [IQR = 7, 14] at LT and 10 months [9, 17] at tracheostomy. Nine (64%) were infants and 12 (85%) were cirrhotic at the time of LT. Seven (50%) were intubated before LT. Median MV days prior to LT was 23 [7, 36]. Eight (57%) patients received perioperative continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT). The median MV days from LT to tracheostomy was 46 [33, 56]; total MV days from initial intubation to tracheostomy was 57 [37, 66]. Four (28%) children died, of which 3 (21%) died within 1 year of transplant. Total ICU and hospital length of stay were 92 days [I72, 126] and 177 days [115, 212] respectively. Among survivors, 3/10 (30%) required MV at home and 8/10 (80%) were successfully decannulated at 400 median days [283, 584].
Conclusion: Tracheostomy though rare after LT remains a feasible option to support and rehabilitate critically ill children who need prolonged MV in the peri-LT period.
Keywords: mechanical ventilation; multiorgan failure; pediatric liver ICU; tracheostomy.
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