A Pediatric Decannulation Protocol: Outcomes of a 10-Year Experience

Nicholas Wirtz, Robert J. Tibesar, Timothy Lander, James Sidman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objectives (1) Describe an institutional protocol that focuses on the essential steps for decannulation of pediatric patients with long-term tracheostomies. (2) Discuss the preliminary observations of the safety of this protocol in regard to decannulation failures and successes in a selected patient population. Study Design Case series with chart review. Setting A tertiary pediatric hospital. Subjects Subjects were pediatric patients with chronic tracheostomies undergoing decannulation. Ages ranged from 1 to 17 years old. Indications for initial tracheostomy included chronic lung disease, airway obstruction, and trauma. Methods Subjects underwent decannulation attempt following a specific protocol. The protocol consisted of operative laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy. If the airway was deemed adequate for decannulation at that time, the tracheotomy tube was removed, and the child was monitored overnight; the patient was considered for discharge the following day if no complications arose. No routine capping, downsizing, or polysomnography was performed. Results Thirty-five patients fit the criteria and were decannulated within 24 hours of endoscopy. Successful decannulation served as the primary outcome. Of the 35 decannulated patients, 54% (n = 19) were discharged the day following decannulation and another 37% (n = 13) on postdecannulation day 2. There were no acute failures or readmissions. Average inpatient stay for those decannulated was 1.8 days. Conclusion This study describes the preliminary observations of a decannulation protocol in a small subset of patients. The protocol resulted in no acute failures and offers a conservative approach to resource utilization, making it unique when compared with other published protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-734
Number of pages4
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation 2016.


  • decannulation
  • protocol
  • tracheostomy


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