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Tracheostomy: Open Surgical or Percutaneous? An Effort to Solve the Continued Dilemma


Due to lack of globally standardized guidelines and clarity on indications, patient selection, intra-operative preparations, technique, complications, postoperative care and decannulation protocols, percutaneous tracheostomy (PT) has come in vogue as compared to standard open surgical tracheostomy (OST). PercuTwist and guide wire dilatational method (GWDF), techniques of PT, offer lesser operative time and ease of surgery being a bedside procedure. There seems to be paucity of Indian literature on rising trend of increasing indications, post-operative care, management of complications and outcomes of tracheostomy. And thus, there arises a felt need to envisage a study in tertiary care setup targeting these issues and to question the so far unchallenged acceptance of new techniques and technology. Our aim is to study the recent trend of indications, complications, and outcomes of both OST and PT in a cohort of Indian patients who underwent tracheostomy. 80 patients with mean age of 59.0 ± 15 years underwent tracheostomy (OST: 48 (60%), PT: 32 (40%), and among PT, PercuTwist: 16 (50%), GWDF: 16 (50%)) for various indications with objectives to compare operative time, complications and decannulation rates of tracheostomy surgery, within the follow up period of 3 months. Most common indication of elective tracheostomy was prolonged ventilation, and for emergency ones, upper airway obstruction. Mean operative time taken by all the three techniques was comparable, i.e., 16.3 v/s 15 v/s 15.3 min (Open v/s PT GWDF v/s PT PercuTwist). Most common intra-operative complication of OST was haemorrhage (16.3%) and that of PT was false passage (8.8%). Early post-operative complications were haemorrhage (OST: 3.75%, PT: 1.25%) and tube blockage and dislodgement (equal distribution among OST and PT). Late post-operative complications were stomal granulations in PT: 7.5%. Outcomes of tracheostomy were significantly better with OST (36 (45%)) than PT (14 (17.5%)). In PT group, PercuTwist fared better than GWDF in terms of lesser complications (PercuTwist: 10%, GWDF: 18.6%) and better decannulation rates (PercuTwist: 13.6%, GWDF: 3.75%). Most common indication for tracheostomy remains prolonged intubation; complication of OST is intra and early post-operative haemorrhage and that of PT being tube dislodgement and blockage. Outcomes in form of successful decannulation are with OST.

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Correspondence to Jitendra Kumar Singh.

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Ramakrishnan, N., Singh, J.K., Gupta, S.K. et al. Tracheostomy: Open Surgical or Percutaneous? An Effort to Solve the Continued Dilemma. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 71, 320–326 (2019).

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  • Emergency tracheostomy
  • Elective tracheostomy
  • Open surgical tracheostomy
  • Percutaneous tracheostomy
  • PercuTwist
  • Guide wire dilatational method
  • Decannulation