To determine possible indications for tracheotomy in the burned child based on bronchoscopic and laryngoscopic findings.
Design and Setting
A retrospective case study of all patients admitted to a tertiary children's burn center.
All children admitted with burn inhalation injury between 1990 and 1995 (n=211).
All patients underwent laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy and 19 underwent tracheotomy, with 5 tracheotomy tubes placed emergently.
Main Outcome Measures
Observations during laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy included erythema, edema, carbonaceous material, ulcerations, and bronchial mucous casts. The supraglottis, glottis, and subglottis were analyzed separately, when possible. Any sepsis resulting from tracheotomy was determined. Complications, such as glottic webs, subglottic stenosis, and tracheomalacia, were noted.
Indications for tracheotomy included 6 for airway obstruction, 6 for prolonged intubation, 6 for pulmonary cleansing, and 1 for endotracheal tube complications (subglottic stenosis). When examined by bronchoscopy and laryngoscopy, 17 of 19 children had significant airway edema, 10 had carbonaceous material in the airway, and 3 had ulcerations in the airway.
Tracheotomy is indicated in the burned child when significant airway edema is present. Failure to place a tracheotomy tube in these cases leads to a high incidence of immediate tracheotomies (26%). There was no evidence of clinically significant infection attributable to tracheotomy. The number of airway complications due to tracheotomy was no higher than from endotracheal intubation.