To determine the incidence and to describe wound complications and associated risk factors of pediatric tracheotomy.
Retrospective case series.
Freestanding tertiary care academic pediatric hospital.
Sixty-five consecutive children undergoing tracheotomy over 15 months.
Main Outcome Measures
Postoperative wound complications objectively and independently documented by an advanced practice nurse specializing in tracheotomy care. Secondary outcome measures included comorbidities, mortality rates, and wound status after subsequent examinations and management.
The mean (SEM) patient age at tracheotomy was 45 (8.7) months (median age, 9.1 months). The most common indication for tracheotomy was pulmonary disease (36.9%), followed by neurologic impairment and laryngeal abnormalities. There were 19 patients (29%) with and 46 patients (71%) without wound complications. There were no significant differences between the 2 groups in age (P = .68) or weight (P = .55); however, infants younger than 12 months had an increased complication rate (39% vs 17%, P = .04). The type of tracheotomy tube was predictive of postoperative wound complications (P = .02). All patients with wounds received aggressive local wound care. Five of 13 patients had complete resolution of stomal wounds, whereas 8 patients had persistent wound issues. There were 5 non–wound-related mortalities.
With attempts to classify tracheotomy wound breakdowns as reportable events, including never events, increasing emphasis is being placed on posttracheotomy care. This study demonstrates that wound breakdown in pediatric tracheotomy patients is common. These complications can be mitigated, although not prevented completely, with aggressive wound surveillance and specialized wound care.