Time considerations and outcomes in pediatric tracheostomy decannulation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology






Bronchopulmonary dysplasia; Decannulation; Pediatric tracheostomy; Tracheostomy


OBJECTIVE: The study objective is to identify factors that impact the time to decannulation in pediatric patients ages 0 through 18 years who are tracheostomy-dependent. METHODS: This retrospective chart review from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2020 identified pediatric tracheostomy patients at a single pediatric institution. Data extracted included demographic, socioeconomic factors, and clinical characteristics. Multivariate regression and survival analysis were used to identify factors associated with successful decannulation and decreased time with tracheostomy. RESULTS: Of the 479 tracheostomy-dependent patients identified, 162 (33.8%) were decannulated. Time to decannulation ranged from 0.5 months to 189.2 months with median of 24 months (IQR 12.91-45.71). In the multivariate analysis, patients with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (p = 0.021) and those with Passy-Muir® Valve at discharge (p = 0.015) were significantly associated with decannulation. In contrast, neurologic comorbidities (p = 0.06), presence of gastrostomy tube (p < 0.001), or discharged on a home ventilator (p < 0.001) were associated with indefinite tracheostomy. When adjusting for age, sex, race, ethnicity, and insurance status, for every one month delay in establishment of outpatient otolaryngology care, time to decannulation was delayed by 0.5 months (p = 0.010). For each additional outpatient otolaryngology follow-up visit, time to decannulation increased by 3.36 months (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Decannulation in pediatric tracheostomy patients is multifactorial. While timely establishment of outpatient care did correlate with quicker decannulation, factors related to medical complexity may have a greater impact on time to decannulation. Our results can help guide institutional decannulation protocols, as well as provide guidance when counseling families regarding tracheostomy expectations.