OBJECTIVES: The objectives are to describe health outcomes and hospital resource use of children after tracheotomy and identify patient characteristics that correlate with outcomes and hospital resource use.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A retrospective analysis of 917 children aged 0 to 18 years undergoing tracheotomy from 36 children's hospitals in 2002 with follow-up through 2007. Children were identified from ICD-9-CM tracheotomy procedure codes. Comorbid conditions (neurologic impairment [NI], chronic lung disease, upper airway anomaly, prematurity, and trauma) were identified with ICD-9-CM diagnostic codes. Patient characteristics were compared with in-hospital mortality, decannulation, and hospital resource use by using generalized estimating equations.

RESULTS: Forty-eight percent of children were ≤6 months old at tracheotomy placement. Chronic lung disease (56%), NI (48%), and upper airway anomaly (47%) were the most common underlying comorbid conditions. During hospitalization for tracheotomy placement, children with an upper airway anomaly experienced less mortality (3.3% vs 11.7%; P < .001) than children without an upper airway anomaly. Five years after tracheotomy, children with NI experienced greater mortality (8.8% vs 3.5%; P ≤ .01), less decannulation (5.0% vs 11.0%; P ≤ .01), and more total number of days in the hospital (mean [SE]: 39.5 [4.0] vs 25.6 [2.6] days; P ≤ .01) than children without NI. These findings remained significant (P < .01) in multivariate analysis after controlling for other significant cofactors.

CONCLUSIONS: Children with upper airway anomaly experienced less mortality, and children with NI experienced higher mortality rates and greater hospital resource use after tracheotomy. Additional research is needed to explore additional factors that may influence health outcomes in children with tracheotomy.

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