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Tracheotomy in COVID-19 patients:  Optimizing patient selection and  identifying prognostic indicators
  • Thomas James Stubington, MD
Thomas James Stubington, MD
Royal Derby Hospital
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Abstract

Background
Tracheotomy, through its ability to wean patients off ventilation, can shorten ICU length of stay and in doing so increase ICU bed capacity, crucial for saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there is a paucity of patient selection criteria and prognosticators to facilitate decision-making and enhance precious ICU capacity.
Methods
Prospective study of COVID-19 patients undergoing tracheotomy (n=12) over a 4-week period (March-April 2020). Association between pre- and post- operative ventilation requirements and outcomes (ICU stay, time to decannulation, and death) were examined.
Results
Patients who sustained FiO2≤50% and PEEP≤8cm H2O in the 24h pre-tracheotomy exhibited a favourable outcome. Those whose requirements remained below these thresholds post-tracheotomy could be safely stepped down after 48h.
Conclusion
Sustained FiO2≤50% and PEEP≤8cm H2O in the 48h post-tracheotomy are strong predictive factors for a good outcome, raising the potential for these patients to be stepped down early, thus increasing ICU capacity.