Lessons for the next pandemic: analysis of the timing and outcomes including post-discharge decannulation rates for tracheostomy in severe COVID-19 respiratory failure.

Publication date: Feb 13, 2024

COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure frequently require prolonged ventilatory support that would typically warrant early tracheostomy. There has been significant debate on timing, outcomes, and safety of these procedures. The purpose of this study was to determine the epidemiological, hospital, and post-discharge outcomes of this cohort, based on early (ET) versus late (LT) tracheostomy. Retrospective review (March 2020-January 2021) in a 5-hospital system of ventilated patients who underwent tracheostomy. Demographics, hospital/ICU length of stay (LOS), procedural characteristics, APACHE II scores at ICU admission, stabilization markers, and discharge outcomes were analyzed. Long-term decannulation rates were obtained from long-term acute care facility (LTAC) data. A total of 97 patients underwent tracheostomy (mean 61 years, 62% male, 64% Hispanic). Despite ET being frequently performed during active COVID infection (85% vs. 64%), there were no differences in complication types or rates versus LT. APACHE II scores at ICU admission were comparable for both groups; however, > 50% of LT patients met PEEP stability at tracheostomy. ET was associated with significantly shorter ICU and hospital LOS, ventilator days, and higher decannulation rates. Of the cohort discharged to an LTAC, 59% were ultimately decannulated, 36% were discharged home, and 41% were discharged to a skilled nursing facility. We report the first comprehensive analysis of ET and LT that includes LTAC outcomes and stabilization markers in relation to the tracheostomy. ET was associated with improved clinical outcomes and a short LOS, specifically on days of pre-tracheostomy ventilation and in-hospital decannulation rates.

Concepts Keywords
Frequently Early tracheostomy
Hispanic Late tracheostomy


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH respiratory failure
disease IDO facility
disease MESH infection
drug DRUGBANK Methionine
disease VO report

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