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Open Badges Commentary

Tracheostomy must be individualized!

Paolo Pelosi* and Paolo Severgnini

Author Affiliations

Universita' degli Studi dell'Insubria, Servizio di Anestesia B, Ospedale di Circolo e Fondazione Macchi, Varese, Italy

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Critical Care 2004, 8:322-324  doi:10.1186/cc2966

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Published: 8 September 2004


Tracheostomy is one of the most frequent procedures carried out in critically ill patients with major advantages compared to translaryngeal endotracheal intubation such as reduced laryngeal anatomical alterations, reduced inspiratory load, better patient's tolerance and nursing. Thus, tracheostomy can enhance patient's care in patients who need prolonged mechanical ventilation and/or control of airways. The right timing of tracheostomy remains controversial, however it appears that early tracheostomy in selected severe trauma, burn and neurological patients could be effective to reduce the duration of mechanical ventilation intensive care stay and costs. Percutaneous tracheostomy techniques are becoming the procedure of choice in the majority of the cases, since they are safe, easy and quick, and complications are minor. However, percutaneous tracheostomies should be always performed by experienced physicians to avoid unnecessary additional complications. It is not clear the superiority of one percutaneous technique compared to another, but experience of the operator and clinical individual anatomical, physiopathological characteristics of the patient should be always considered. We believe that the operator should have experience of at least one intrusive and one extrusive percutaneous technique. The general "optimal" tracheostomy technique and timing do not exist, but tracheostomy should be targeted on the patient's individual clinical characteristics.

neurological injury; open surgical tracheostomy; percutaneous dilational tracheostomy; respiratory failure; tracheostomy; trauma