To determine the outcomes of patients undergoing tracheostomy for COVID-19 and of healthcare workers performing these procedures.
Tracheostomy is often performed for prolonged endotracheal intubation in critically ill patients. However, in the context of COVID-19, tracheostomy placement pathways have been altered due to the poor prognosis of intubated patients as well as the risk of transmission to providers through this highly aerosolizing procedure.
A prospective single-system multi-center observational cohort study was performed on patients who underwent tracheostomy following acute respiratory failure secondary to COVID-19.
Of the 53 patients who underwent tracheostomy, the average time from endotracheal intubation to tracheostomy was 19.7 days ± 6.9 days. The most common indication for tracheostomy was ARDS, followed by failure to wean ventilation and post-ECMO decannulation. 30 patients (56.6%) were liberated from the ventilator, 16 (30.2%) have been discharged alive, 7 (13.2%) have been decannulated, and 6 (11.3%) died. The average time from tracheostomy to ventilator liberation was 11.8 days ± 6.9 days (range 2 – 32 days). Both open surgical and percutaneous dilational tracheostomy techniques were performed utilizing methods to mitigate aerosols. No healthcare worker transmissions resulted from performing the procedure.
Alterations to tracheostomy practices and processes were successfully instituted. Following these steps, tracheostomy in COVID-19 intubated patients appears safe for both patients and healthcare workers performing the procedure.