A Modified Translaryngeal Tracheostomy Technique in the Neurointensive Care Unit. Rationale and Single-center Experience on 199 Acute Brain-damaged Patients

Stefano Spina, Vittorio Scaravilli, Giovanni Cavenaghi, Dario Manzolini, Chiara Marzorati, Enrico Colombo, Davide Savo, Alessia Vargiolu, Giuseppe Citerio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Brain-injured patients frequently require tracheostomy, but no technique has been shown to be the gold standard for these patients. We developed and introduced into standard clinical practice an innovative bedside translaryngeal tracheostomy (TLT) technique aided by suspension laryngoscopy (modified TLT). During this procedure, the endotracheal tube is left in place until the airway is secured with the new tracheostomy. This study assessed the clinical impact of this technique in brain-injured patients. Materials and Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from adult brain-injured patients who had undergone modified TLT during the period spanning from January 2010 to December 2016 at the Neurointensive care unit, San Gerardo Hospital (Monza, Italy). The incidence of intraprocedural complications, including episodes of intracranial hypertension (intracranial pressure [ICP] >20 mm Hg), was documented. Neurological, ventilatory, and hemodynamic parameters were retrieved before, during, and after the procedure. Risk factors for complications and intracranial hypertension were assessed by univariate logistic analysis. Data are presented as n (%) and median (interquartile range) for categorical and continuous variables, respectively. Results: A total of 199 consecutive brain-injured patients receiving modified TLT were included. An overall 52% male individuals who were 66 (54 to 74) years old and who had an admission Glasgow Coma Scale of 7 (6 to 10) were included in the cohort. Intracerebral hemorrhage (30%) was the most frequent diagnosis. Neurointensivists performed 130 (65%) of the procedures. Patients underwent tracheostomy 10 (7 to 13) days after intensive care unit admission. Short (ie, <2 min) and clinically uneventful increases in ICP>20 mm Hg were observed in 11 cases. Overall, the procedure was associated with an increase in ICP from 7 (4 to 10) to 12 (7 to 18) mm Hg (P<0.001). Compared with baseline, cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), respiratory variables, and hemodynamics were unchanged during the procedure (P-value, not significant). Higher baseline ICP and core temperature were associated with an increased risk of complications and intracranial hypertension. Complication rates were low: 1 procedure had to be converted to a surgical tracheostomy, and 1 (0.5%) episode of minor bleeding and 5 (2.5%) of minor non-neurological complications were recorded. Procedures performed by intensivists did not have a higher risk of complications compared with those performed by ear, nose, and throat specialists. Conclusions: A modified TLT (by means of suspension laryngoscopy) performed by neurointensivists is feasible in brain-injured patients and does not adversely impact ICP and CPP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-336
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Brain injury
  • Cerebral perfusion pressure
  • Intracranial hypertension
  • Tracheostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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