Am J Otolaryngol. 2021 Jun 7;42(6):103102. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2021.103102. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Tracheostomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed on ventilated COVID-19 patients, yet the appropriate timing for operating is controversial.
OBJECTIVES: Assessing the effect of early tracheostomy on mortality and decannulation; elucidating changes in ventilation parameters, vasopressors and sedatives dosages immediately following the procedure.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort of 38 ventilated COVID-19 patients, 19 of them (50%) underwent tracheostomy within 7 days of intubation (early tracheostomy group) and the rest underwent tracheostomy after 8 days or more (late tracheostomy group).
RESULTS: Decannulation rates were significantly higher while mortality rates were non-significantly lower in the early tracheostomy group compared with the late tracheostomy group (58% vs 21% p < 0.05; 42% vs 74% p = 0.1, respectively). Tidal volume increased (446 ml vs 483 ml; p = 0.02) while PEEP (13 cmH20 vs 11.6 cmH2O, p = 0.04) decreased at the immediate time following the procedure. No staff member participating in the procedures was infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus.
CONCLUSION: Early tracheostomy might offer improved outcomes with higher decannulation rates and lower mortality rates in ventilated COVID-19 patients, yet larger scale studies are needed. Most likely, early exposure to COVID-19 patients with appropriate personal protective equipment during open tracheostomy does not put the surgical team at risk.