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J Pediatr Surg. 2013 Jul;48(7):1470-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2012.09.066.

Pediatric tracheotomy: a 30-year experience.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University Children's Hospital Zurich, Switzerland.



The aim of this study was to investigate changes of pediatric tracheotomy practice over time.


A retrospective analysis of all tracheotomies at the University Children's Hospital Zurich from January 1990 to December 2009 was performed. Data analyzed included the indication for tracheotomy, patient comorbidities, age, duration of cannulation, and complications. The second part of the study consisted of comparing our results with data from an earlier study done at the same institution by Simma et al. (Eur J Pediatr 1994;153:291-296) reviewing the patients with tracheotomies treated from 1979 to 1989.


Between 1990 and 2009, 119 patients were included. The indication for tracheotomy was airway obstruction in 70% and prolonged ventilation in 30%. 70% of the patients were operated on before 1 year of age. Serious postoperative complications occurred in 25 patients (23%). There was one death related to tracheotomy. Successful decannulation was achieved in 60%, on average 28 months after tracheotomy. The decannulation rate in patients with airway obstruction was 74% compared to 52% for the patients in prolonged ventilation group; a statistically significant difference was observed (p < 0.05). The longitudinal analysis showed an increase of indications for prolonged ventilation and a trend toward decreased tracheotomy complications.


Over 30 years, a shift in the indications of pediatric tracheotomy, with an increasing number of procedures performed for prolonged ventilation, was found. The tracheotomy-related mortality was under 1%. Tracheotomy remains a valid and safe option for pediatric patients. Level of evidence 2c.


Long-term follow-up; Morbidity; Mortality; Pediatric tracheostomy; Pediatric tracheotomy

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