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Safety of Percutaneous Dilatational Tracheostomy During Veno-Venous Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Support in Adults With Severe Respiratory Failure

Dimopoulos, Stavros PhD1; Joyce, Holly MBBS2; Camporota, Luigi PhD1,2; Glover, Guy FFICM1; Ioannou, Nicholas FFICM1; Langrish, Christopher J. FFICM1; Retter, Andrew MBBS1; Meadows, Christopher I. S. FFICM1,2; Barrett, Nicholas A. FCICM1,2; Tricklebank, Stephen FFICM1

doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000003515
Online Clinical Investigations

Objectives: To investigate the safety of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy in severe respiratory failure patients during veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support.

Design: A single-center, retrospective, observational cohort study.

Setting: Tertiary referral severe respiratory failure center, university teaching hospital.

Patients: Severe respiratory failure patients consecutively admitted and supported with veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation between January 2010 and December 2015.

Intervention: A bronchoscopy-guided percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy was performed in all cases.

Measurements and Main Results: Sixty-five veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation patients (median [interquartile range] age, 47 yr [interquartile range, 35-59 yr]; 39 males; Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation-II score, 18 [interquartile range, 17-22] Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score, 10 [interquartile range, 7-16]) underwent percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy. Ten patients (15%) developed one or more major complications. Of these, seven (11%) had major bleeding, and three of these also required circuit change due to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation circuit dysfunction. Two more patients (3.1%) presented with isolated extracorporeal membrane oxygenation circuit dysfunction requiring circuit change, and one developed bilateral pneumothoraces (1.5%) requiring intercostal drain insertion. Patients who developed complications had significantly lower extracorporeal membrane oxygenation postoxygenator Po2 prior to percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (45.8 kPa [interquartile range, 36.9–56.5 kPa] vs 57.9 kPa [interquartile range, 45.1–64.2 kPa]; p = 0.019]. On multivariate analysis, including demographic, clinical, biochemical, hematologic variables, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation circuit functional variables, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation postoxygenator Po2 was the only independent variable associated with major complications following percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (beta = –0.09; odds ratio, 0.9; 95% CI, 0.84–0.99; p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy is associated with a considerable complication rate in veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation patients. Preprocedure circuit performance as indicated by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation postoxygenator Po2 is an independent predictor of major complications following percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy.

1Department of Critical Care, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom.

2Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom.

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Dr. Barrett’s institution received funding from Alung. The remaining authors have disclosed that they do not have any potential conflicts of interest.

Address requests for reprints to: Stephen Tricklebank, FFICM, Department of Critical Care, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, St Thomas’ Hospital Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, United Kingdom. E-mail:

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