The records of all children who had a tracheostomy performed over a 10 year period from January 1979 were reviewed. Altogether 142 patients aged 1 day to 24.8 years received a tracheostomy, 70 in the first year of life. The conditions necessitating tracheostomy were trauma (n = 21), acquired subglottic stenosis (n = 21), subglottic haemangioma (n = 16), Guillain-Barré syndrome (n = 14), Pierre Robin syndrome (n = 9), craniofacial disorders (n = 9), micrognathia (n = 5), and others in 47. In patients successfully decannulated the median period of tracheostomy was 104 days (range 3 days to 9.0 years) and in 25 patients the tracheostomy is still in situ. Eighty four patients (60%) were discharged from hospital with their tracheostomy in situ and no patient was kept in hospital because of a tracheostomy beyond four weeks. There were two tracheostomy related deaths in hospital. Both patients had severe acquired subglottic stenosis secondary to ventilation for lung disease of prematurity. There were no tracheostomy related deaths at home; complications included tracheal granulomas and polyps (n = 19). After removal of the tracheostomy 13 children had a fistula requiring surgical closure and four required revision of the tracheostomy scar. Tracheostomy is well tolerated in small children, with few complications and can be managed safely in the home by the family.
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