Send to

Choose Destination
Intensive Care Med. 2013 Oct;39(10):1792-9. doi: 10.1007/s00134-013-3023-8. Epub 2013 Jul 27.

Safety of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy in patients on extracorporeal lung support.

Author information

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany,



To evaluate the safety of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (PDT) in critically ill patients on an extracorporeal lung assist device requiring therapeutic anticoagulation.


This was a retrospective, observational study on all patients undergoing tracheostomy while on pumpless extracorporeal lung assist or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in intensive care units of two university hospitals in Germany between 2007 and 2013.


During the study period PDT was performed on 118 patients. The median platelet count, international normalized ratio, and activated partial thromboplastin time before tracheostomy were 126 × 10(9)/L (range 16-617 × 10(9)/L), 1.1 (0.9-2.0) and 49 s (28-117 s), respectively. Seventeen patients (14.4%) received a maximum of three bags of pooled platelets, and eight patients (6.8%) received a maximum of four units of fresh frozen plasma before the procedure. In all patients the administration of intravenous heparin was briefly paused periprocedurally. No periprocedural clotting complication within the extracorporeal circuit was observed. Two patients (1.7%) suffered from procedure-related major bleeding, with one patient requiring conversion to a surgical tracheostomy. Two pneumothoraces (1.7%) were related to the PDT. One patient (0.8%) had analgosedation-related hypotension with brief and successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Minor bleeding from the tracheostomy site occurred in 37 cases (31.4%). No fatality was attributable to tracheostomy.


The complication rates of PDT in the patients on extracorporeal lung support were low and comparable to those of other critically ill patients. Based on these results, we conclude that PDT performed by experienced operators with careful optimization of the coagulation state is a relatively safe procedure and not contraindicated for this patient group.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center