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Laryngoscope. 2012 Jan;122(1):46-50. doi: 10.1002/lary.22375.

Surveillance and management practices in tracheotomy patients.

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School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom.



To ascertain the surveillance and management practices for tracheotomy patients.


Survey of tracheotomy management.


An electronically distributed 26-question survey was distributed under the auspices of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.


There were 478 responses. The mean number of years in practice was 21.2 years (standard deviation [SD], 11.0 years). Sixty-five percent of respondents perform mainly adult tracheotomy. There is variation in surveillance patterns of immediate, postoperative, intermediate, and long-term surveillance. On average, respondents follow a fresh tracheotomy daily for about 6 days, monthly for about 3 months, and long-term surveillance every 4 months on average. Almost all respondents perform long-term surveillance during routine tracheotomy changes; 61.4% perform this surveillance with an endoscope, and a minority rely on history and examination. The mean frequency of tracheotomy tube changes was 2 months (SD, 2.2 months; median, 1.1 month; range, 0.06-12 months). Two hundred sixty-one respondents have or have used a decannulation algorithm. The vast majority, 96.2%, are comfortable with their current management practices. Over half of the respondents perceive value in a clinical practice guideline to help them with standardizing care, and 80% of respondents feel that it would assist other specialties in the care and surveillance of tracheotomy patients.


There is marked variability in the surveillance and management of tracheotomy patients. There exists opportunity to improve care through standardization of surveillance and management of these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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