Outcomes of Percutaneous Tracheostomy for Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Respiratory Failure

Jason Arnold*, Catherine A. Gao, Elizabeth Malsin, Kristy Todd, Angela Christine Argento, Michael Cuttica, John M. Coleman, Richard G. Wunderink, Sean B. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can cause severe respiratory failure leading to prolonged mechanical ventilation. Data are just emerging about the practice and outcomes of tracheostomy in these patients. We reviewed our experience with tracheostomies for SARS-CoV-2. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the demographics, comorbidities, timing of mechanical ventilation, tracheostomy, and intensive care unit and hospital lengths of stay in SARS-CoV-2 patients who received tracheostomies performed by the interventional pulmonary team. A tertiary care, teaching hospital in Chicago, Illinois. From March 2020 to April 2021, our center had 473 patients intubated for SARS-CoV-2, and 72 (15%) had percutaneous bedside tracheostomy performed by the interventional pulmonary team. Results: Median time from intubation to tracheostomy was 20 (interquartile range: 16 to 25) days. Demographics and comorbidities were similar between early and late tracheostomy, but early tracheostomy was associated with shorter intensive care unit lengths of stay and a shorter total duration of ventilation. To date, 39 (54%) patients have been decannulated, 17 (24%) before hospital discharge; median time to decannulation was 22 (IQR: 18 to 36) days. Patients that were decannulated were younger (56 vs. 69 y). The rate of decannulation for survivors was 82%. No providers developed symptoms or tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Conclusion: Tracheostomy enhances care for patients with prolonged respiratory failure from SARS-CoV-2 since early tracheostomy is associated with shorter duration of critical care, and decannulation rates are high for survivors. It furthermore appears safe for both patients and operators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-65
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2023


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • interventional pulmonology
  • percutaneous tracheostomy
  • tracheostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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