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Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy in a medical ICU


Objective: To evaluate the safety of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy. Design: A prospective clinical study. Setting: The intensive care unit of a university medical clinic. Patients: 137 critically ill patients admitted between May 1993 and September 1996. Intervention: Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy at the bedside. Results: The median duration of translaryngeal intubation prior to tracheostomy was 8 days. Tracheostomy was carried out within 12.8 min (range 7 –30 min). Acute complications were documented in 11.0 % of the patients. There was one case of severe bleeding with transient asphyxia. Four patients had tracheal mucosal laceration treated conservatively. The postoperative in-hospital complication rate was 5.1 %, the sole problem being stomal bleeding. Only two cases of stomal infection were documented. There was no procedure-related mortality. Conclusion: In the hands of the experienced, percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy is a safe and quick bedside procedure. It is also less expensive and incurs minimal stress for the patient compared with the surgical method. The technique can be easily mastered by non-surgical physicians and we feel that it is the method of choice for elective tracheostomy in the majority of intensive care patients.

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Received: 16 August 1996 Accepted: 27 February 1997

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Petros, S., Engelmann, L. Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy in a medical ICU. Intensive Care Med 23, 630–634 (1997).

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  • Key words Percutaneous
  • Tracheostomy
  • Critically ill
  • Bleeding
  • Tracheal injury