This study analyzes postoperative airway management, tracheotomy strategies, and airway-associated complications in patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma in a tertiary care university hospital setting.
Material and Methods:
After institutional approval, airway-associated complications, tracheotomy, length of hospital stay (LOHS), and length of intensive care unit stay were retrospectively recorded. Patients were subdivided in primarily tracheotomized and not-primarily tracheotomized. Subgroup analyses dichotomized the not-primarily tracheotomized patients into secondary tracheotomized and never tracheotomized. Associations were calculated using regression analyses. A multivariate regression model was used to determine risk factors for secondary tracheotomy.
A total of 207 patients were included. One hundred fifty-three patients (73.9%) were primarily tracheotomized. Primarily tracheotomized patients showed longer LOHS [odds ratio (OR) 1.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.07, P=0.008] but decreased need for reventilation within the intensive care unit stay (OR 0.39, 95% CI 0.15–0.99, P=0.05) compared with not-primarily tracheotomized patients. Within the not-primarily tracheotomized patients, secondary tracheotomized during the hospital stay was needed in 15 of 54 patients (27.8%). In secondary tracheotomized patients, airway management due to respiratory failure was required in 6/15 (40%) patients resulting in critical airway situations in 3/6 (50%) patients. Multivariate regression model showed secondary tracheotomy-associated with bilateral neck dissection (OR 5.93, 95% CI 1.22–28.95, P=0.03) and pneumonia (OR 16.81, 95% CI 2.31–122.51, P=0.005).
Primary tracheotomy was associated with extended LOHS, whereas secondary tracheotomy was associated with increased complications rates resulting in extended length of intensive care unit stay. Especially in not-primarily tracheotomized patients, careful individualized patient evaluation and critical re-evaluation during intensive care unit stay is necessary to avoid critical airway events.