Predictors of the need for tracheostomy in the neonatal intensive care unit

Alanna M. Windsor, Eleanor P. Kiell, Steven E. Sobol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Many infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) require prolonged periods of respiratory support. Microlaryngoscopy and bronchoscopy (MLB) is performed to evaluate for airway pathology and facilitate decision-making regarding further airway interventions or tracheostomy. The objectives of this study are to describe the operative findings of MLB performed on infants in the NICU and determine which pre-operative characteristics or operative findings are predictive of the need for tracheostomy. Methods: The medical records of preterm inpatients in the NICU at a single tertiary care hospital who underwent MLB between January 1, 2013 and January 7, 2016 were reviewed. Baseline and demographic characteristics and intra-operative findings were compared between patients who underwent tracheostomy and those who were successfully weaned from respiratory support. Results: Seventy-three preterm patients underwent MLB for respiratory failure, of whom 41 (56.2%) underwent tracheostomy. Patients who underwent tracheostomy had lower mean gestational age (27.4 vs. 30.5 weeks), higher prevalence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (73.2% vs. 37.5%), lower mean birth weight (1.1 kg vs. 1.6 kg), and a greater number of extubation events (5.2 vs. 3.0) than those who weaned from respiratory support. Abnormal MLB findings were common in both groups, though no single MLB finding differed significantly between groups. Conclusions: Preterm infants in the NICU with gestational age ≤30 weeks, birth weight <1.5 kg, severe pulmonary disease, and who have failed more than 3 extubation attempts are more likely to require tracheostomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110122
JournalInternational journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Microlaryngoscopy and bronchoscopy
  • Neonate
  • Pediatric airway
  • Prematurity
  • Tracheostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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