Open Bedside Tracheostomy: Safe and Cost Saving but Underutilized Nationally

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023 Feb;168(2):188-195. doi: 10.1177/01945998221091905.


Objective: To evaluate open bedside tracheostomy (OBT) and compare it with open operating room (OR) tracheostomy and bedside percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (PDT) in complications and cost. To determine the tracheostomy practice patterns of academic otolaryngology programs.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study and cross-sectional study.

Setting: Public hospital and tertiary care hospital.

Methods: Otolaryngology program directors were surveyed to determine their institutions' tracheostomy practice patterns and the factors preventing the implementation of open bedside tracheostomies. A retrospective chart review was done of tracheostomies performed at our institutions from 2009 to 2019 for prolonged mechanical ventilation. Complications, length of intubation, comorbidities, body mass index, demographics, mortality rates, and decannulation rates were recorded. A cost analysis between OBT and PDT was conducted.

Results: Data from 802 patients were analyzed for 449 OBTs, 206 PDTs, and 147 open OR tracheostomies. Complication rates were low. PDTs were more likely to have perioperative tracheal bleeding (P = .028) and mucus plugging (P = .006). OBTs were performed on sicker patients with a higher Charlson Comorbidity Index than PDT and OR tracheostomies. The cost of OBT was less than that of PDT. The survey response rate of tracheostomy practice patterns was 46%. The otolaryngologists at the responding programs all conducted OR tracheostomies, while 52.7% did OBTs and 30.9% PDTs.

Conclusion: OBT can be done safely in patients with multiple comorbidities and has a cost that can be less than PDT. Despite these benefits, only 50% of academic institutions routinely performed OBT.

Keywords: bedside tracheostomy; percutaneous tracheostomy.

MeSH terms

  • Cost Savings
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tracheostomy* / adverse effects