Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2013 Mar;145(3):716-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2012.12.025.

"Corkscrew stenosis": defining and preventing a complication of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy.

Author information

  • 1Department of Surgery, St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ, USA. jvjacobs@gmail.com



The short-term safety of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy has been widely demonstrated. However, less is known about their long-term complications. Through an illustrative case series, we present and define "corkscrew stenosis," a type of tracheal stenosis uniquely associated with percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy.


Patients treated at our institution for tracheal stenosis after percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy were reviewed. Demographic data including gender, age, history of presentation, lesion morphology, imaging, and management was collected and evaluated. The pathology of the stenosis and the strategies for prevention are presented.


From January, 2008 through December 2011, 11 patients had tracheal stenosis after percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy. The mean age was 54 ± 17 years and 55% were male. The stenotic lesions were characterized by a corkscrew morphology at the stoma site with a mean distance of 2.3 ± 0.8 cm from the vocal cords. Images of these lesions demonstrated disruption and fracture of the proximal tracheal cartilages and displacement of the anterior tracheal wall into the tracheal lumen. The majority of our patients required tracheal resection for definitive repair.


We suggest that a unique form of tracheal stenosis can result from percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy. We observed corkscrew stenosis to be located proximally, associated with fractured tracheal rings, and morphologically appearing as interdigitation of these fractured rings. Recognizing corkscrew stenosis, its unique mechanism of formation, and technical means of prevention may be important in advancing the long-term safety of this procedure for critically ill patients who require prolonged ventilatory support.

Copyright © 2013 The American Association for Thoracic Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

Comment in

  • Avoiding tracheostomy complication. [J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2013]
  • Reply to the editor. [J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2013]
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk