Emergency care of patients with tracheostomies: A 7-year review

Theresa Hackeling, Rudolph Triana, O. John Ma, William Shockley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The emergency department (ED) care of a patient with a tracheostomy tube can be problematic because of difficulty with patient communication, urgency of airway control, and unfamiliarity with tracheal equipment. The objective of this study was to characterize complications of tracheostomy patients seen in the ED and provide management techniques. A retrospective study was conducted on all patients with tracheostomy complications who presented to a university, tertiary-care ED over a 7-year period. Data obtained included age, gender, operative indication, complication, time of complication, vital signs, and ED management. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. During the study period, 38 patients were evaluated in the ED for 60 complications. The 60 complications were categorized into six groups: 20 (33%) patients presented with dislodged tracheal tubes, 11 (18%) presented with plugged tracheal tubes, 18 (30%) had infection, 7 (11%) had bleeding, 1 (3%) had a pnuemothorax, and 3 (5%) had tracheal/stomal stenosis. Review of the complications that place tracheostomy patients at high risk in conjunction with a review of the literature enabled the development of a standard approach to dealing with patients with tracheostomies that can facilitate proper care of the patients in the ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-685
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


  • Airway
  • Bronchitis
  • Cellulitis
  • Otolaryngology
  • Trachea
  • Tracheitis
  • Tracheostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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