Surgical tracheostomy (ST) with creation of an inferiorly based Ushaped tracheal flap, known as the Björk flap, is the most commonly performed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether outcome was different in patients who underwent low ST with retraction and preservation of the thyroid isthmus compared to those who underwent high ST with ligation of the thyroid isthmus.
Retrospective cohort study.
We included 1,143 patients who underwent ST with creation of a Björk flap between 2008 and 2015. Different outcome parameters, including complications, decannulation, inpatient mortality, and surgical characteristics, such as length of surgery and height of tracheal incision, were assessed comparing low and high ST.
Complications occurred in 7.7% of patients, of which persistent stoma (4.1%) and hemorrhages (2.7%) were the most common. Low tracheostomy with retraction and preservation of thyroid isthmus was done in 31.4% of cases. Complications did not significantly differ between low and high tracheostomies (8.0% vs. 7.0%, P = .468). Moreover, decannulation rate and inpatient mortality were also not significantly different in low compared to high tracheostomies (P = .816 and P = .152, respectively). However, low tracheostomies were associated with significantly shorter operation times (33.0 0.8 min vs. 38.7 0.5 min, P < .001) and lower tracheal incisions for creation of a Björk flap (P < .001) compared to high tracheostomies.
Low tracheostomies are as safe as high tracheostomies regarding complications. Due to the fact that low tracheostomies are associated with shorter operation times and lower tracheal incisions, we recommend performong low tracheostomies whenever feasible.