Send to

Choose Destination
Int Arch Med. 2008 Oct 25;1(1):21. doi: 10.1186/1755-7682-1-21.

Intensive care unit tracheostomy: a snapshot of UK practice.

Author information

Department of Anaesthetics, Box 93, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Rd, Cambridge, CB2 20QQ, UK.



Tracheostomy is a common procedure in intensive care patient management. The aim of this study was to capture the practice of tracheostomy in Intensive Care Units in the United Kingdom. A postal survey was sent to the lead clinicians of 228 general intensive care units (ICUs) throughout the United Kingdom excluding specialist units. We aimed to identify the current practice of tracheostomy, including timing of insertion, equipment used and post-operative care and follow-up.


A response rate of 86.84% was achieved. Percutaneous tracheostomy continues to be favoured over surgical tracheostomy with less than 8% of ICUs opting for surgical tracheostomies > 50% of the time. 89% of units required only 2 operators to perform the technique and single stage dilatation is the technique of choice in 83% of units. The Ciaglia technique, which was strongly favoured less than a decade ago, is currently practiced in less than 5% of ICUs. Bronchoscopic guidance is an important adjunct to the technique of percutaneous tracheostomy with 80% of units using it routinely. Follow-up care of patients remains poor with 59% of ICUs not having routine follow-up once the patient has left the unit.


The practice of percutaneous tracheostomy remains the preferred technique within the UK. There seems to be a growing preference for single stage dilatational techniques. Timing of tracheostomy remains variable despite evidence to suggest benefit from an earlier procedure. Follow-up of tracheostomised patients after discharge from ICU is still low, which may mean significant morbidity from the procedure is being missed.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center