Objectives/Hypothesis: Standard-sized tracheostomy tubes often fit morbidly obese patients poorly because of increased submental and anterior cervical girth. The surgeon has two options to overcome this problem: Modify the tracheostomy tube to fit the patient or recontour the neck to accommodate a standard tube. The purpose of the study was to assess the safety and morbidity of the latter technique, the "defatting" tracheotomy. Study Design: Retrospective cohort study of 23 patients treated between 1994 and 2001 with cervical lipectomy and tracheotomy. Methods: Medical charts were reviewed for indications, demographics, body mass index, tracheotomy-related complications, and decannulation results. Results: The average age of patients was 50 years (age range, 34-77 y). The mean preoperative body mass index was 55.9 (range, 39.2-73.5). Indications for the procedure were respiratory failure requiring chronic ventilation in 16 patients (70%) and obstructive sleep apnea in 7 (30%). Four patients died postoperatively from causes unrelated to tracheotomy. The mean follow-up time of survivors was 23 months. The overall tracheotomy-related complication rate was 43%. Four patients developed wound infections in the perioperative period, one patient developed a neck abscess, and one patient required neck exploration for control of hemorrhage. Four patients (22%) developed late complications including tracheitis (1), neck abscess (1), and stenosis of the tracheocutaneous tract (2). Eight patients (44%) ultimately had decannulation. Conclusions: Defatting tracheotomy is a sale technique that allows for the placement of a standard tracheostomy tube in morbidly obese patients. It is associated with a high rate of minor infectious complications. Even so, we think that cervical lipectomy with tracheostomy tube placement is the preferred surgical option for this patient population.
- Morbid obesity
ASJC Scopus subject areas