Decannulation and survival following tracheostomy in an intensive care unit

Randal Leung, Lachlan MacGregor, Donald Campbell, Robert G. Berkowitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    We investigated the long-term outcome of patients requiring tracheostomy in an intensive care unit (ICU) in an attempt to identify risk factors that would indicate a low probability of early decannulation. A retrospective study was conducted of a consecutive series of 106 patients who underwent tracheostomy in the period between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2001, during their admission to the ICU at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. There were 61 male and 39 female patients with a median age of 65 years. The indications for tracheostomy were prolonged mechanical ventilation (47), tracheobronchial toilet or risk of aspiration (45), and an unstable or obstructed airway (8). Thirty-seven patients died during the study period. All surviving patients were successfully decannulated (median cannulation time, 25 days). Patients with tracheostomies inserted for an unstable or obstructed airway had a significantly shorter cannulation time (median time of 13 days) as compared to the other two indications (mechanical ventilation, 25 days; risk of aspiration, 33 days; log-rank test, χ2(2) = 14.62 and p = .0007). Multivariate analysis showed that the effect of an unstable or obstructed airway was independent of the remaining group variables. We conclude that ICU patients who need a tracheostomy have a high mortality rate. Only the indication for tracheostomy insertion predicts early decannulation, and other patient variables are not significant predictors.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)853-858
    Number of pages6
    JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2003


    • Cannulation time
    • Intensive care
    • Survival
    • Tracheostomy


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