Multidisciplinary Safety Recommendations After Tracheostomy During COVID-19 Pandemic: State of the Art Review

Kara D. Meister, Vinciya Pandian, Alexander T. Hillel, Brian K. Walsh, Martin B. Brodsky, Karthik Balakrishnan, Simon R. Best, Steven B. Chinn, John D. Cramer, Evan M. Graboyes, Brendan A. McGrath, Christopher H. Rassekh, Joshua R. Bedwell, Michael J. Brenner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: In the chronic phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, questions have arisen regarding the care of patients with a tracheostomy and downstream management. This review addresses gaps in the literature regarding posttracheostomy care, emphasizing safety of multidisciplinary teams, coordinating complex care needs, and identifying and managing late complications of prolonged intubation and tracheostomy. Data Sources: PubMed, Cochrane Library, Scopus, Google Scholar, institutional guidance documents. Review Methods: Literature through June 2020 on the care of patients with a tracheostomy was reviewed, including consensus statements, clinical practice guidelines, institutional guidance, and scientific literature on COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 virology and immunology. Where data were lacking, expert opinions were aggregated and adjudicated to arrive at consensus recommendations. Conclusions: Best practices in caring for patients after a tracheostomy during the COVID-19 pandemic are multifaceted, encompassing precautions during aerosol-generating procedures; minimizing exposure risks to health care workers, caregivers, and patients; ensuring safe, timely tracheostomy care; and identifying and managing laryngotracheal injury, such as vocal fold injury, posterior glottic stenosis, and subglottic stenosis that may affect speech, swallowing, and airway protection. We present recommended approaches to tracheostomy care, outlining modifications to conventional algorithms, raising vigilance for heightened risks of bleeding or other complications, and offering recommendations for personal protective equipment, equipment, care protocols, and personnel. Implications for Practice: Treatment of patients with a tracheostomy in the COVID-19 pandemic requires foresight and may rival procedural considerations in tracheostomy in their complexity. By considering patient-specific factors, mitigating transmission risks, optimizing the clinical environment, and detecting late manifestations of severe COVID-19, clinicians can ensure due vigilance and quality care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)984-1000
Number of pages17
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • DVT
  • FFP3
  • N95
  • PE
  • SARS
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • VTE
  • aerosol generating procedure
  • deep venous thrombosis
  • health care worker safety
  • laryngectomy
  • laryngotracheal injury
  • pandemic
  • patient safety and quality improvement
  • pulmonary embolism
  • respiratory
  • subglottic stenosis
  • suction
  • tracheal stenosis; tracheocutaneous fistula
  • tracheostomy
  • tracheotomy
  • venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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