Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (PDT) is a common procedure in critically ill patients, but the correct timing is still controversial. This study was designed to establish whether an early timing in video-guided Ciaglia Blue Rhino PDT affects the duration of mechanical ventilation (MV) and the length of stay (LOS) in intensive care unit (ICU). Secondary clinical outcomes were the overall hospitalization duration and the mortality rate.
A retrospective, single-center study of 2,210 patients admitted to the ICU of the Emergency Department of the Careggi Teaching Hospital (Florence, Italy) between 2002 and 2007. Among the 506 patients who underwent PDT, 256 and 250 patients were retrospectively assigned to the early tracheostomy (ET) or late tracheostomy (LT) group according to whether the procedure was performed before (ET) or after (LT) 3 days of MV (median time of procedure execution).
The two groups of patients showed comparable demographic and clinical characteristics. The video-guided PDT procedures were performed without major complications in all cases. The average timing of tracheostomy in the ET group was 1.9 ± 0.9 days, whereas in LT group resulted 6.8 ± 3.8 days (mean ± SD). Total hospital LOS and mortality rate were not different between the two groups. However, the duration of MV days and of ICU LOS group were significantly shorter in the ET group (13.3 ± 9.6 and 16.9 ± 13.0 days, respectively; p = 0.0001) than in the LT group (16.7 ± 8.3 days and 20.8 ± 9.2 days, respectively; p < 0.0001). Stratified analysis by the three major ICU admission diagnosis confirmed that both traumatized and nontraumatized (medical and postsurgical) ET patients had a shorter MV duration and ICU LOS as compared with LT patients.
Video-guided Ciaglia Blue Rhino PDT is safe and easy to perform in ICU. No difference in overall hospital LOS, incidence of pneumonia, and mortality rate between the ET and LT groups was found. However, in both traumatized and nontraumatized patients, shortened duration of ICU LOS and MV in the ET group (≤3 days) indicates this procedure as a useful approach for patients and healthcare system.