Learning curve for translaryngeal tracheotomy in head and neck surgery

G. Giugliano, M. Venturino, F. DePaoli, J. Andrle, L. Calabrese, N. Tradati, F. Chiesa, D. Scarpa, G. Susini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Translaryngeal tracheotomy (TLT) is a widely accepted procedure in intensive-care units for its simplicity of execution, low morbidity, rapid wound closure after cannula removal, good esthetic results, and lack of long-term sequelae. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and use of adopting TLT in patients with cancer undergoing major head and neck surgery. Study Design: Prospective analysis of learning curve and incidence of complications in 41 patients with cancer who underwent TLT at the Division of Head and Neck Surgery of the European Institute of Oncology from November 1997 to June 1999. Methods: Patient characteristics, pathology, anatomic characteristics of the neck, and surgical short-term and long-term complications were noted. The patients were divided into consecutive groups of six or seven patients, and time trends in occurrence of complications and time to execute the procedure were assessed. Results: TLT performance time decreased from 50 minutes in the first seven patients to 24 minutes in the last group. The technique was easy to perform and safe, with only two minor complications during surgery. However, minor complications occurred in three and major complications in 17 patients in the days immediately following surgery, almost entirely attributable to lack of counter-cannula and styler. Conclusions: In view of the high proportion of major complications, TLT using the presently available kit is unsuitable for major head and neck surgery. However, the considerable advantages of the technique would recommend it as a valid alternative to surgical tracheotomy if the kit included a counter-cannula and stylet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-633
Number of pages6
Issue number4 I
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Surgery
  • Tracheotomy
  • Translaryngeal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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