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Otolaryngologist's role in transtracheal oxygen therapy: The minitrach procedure

Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1016/s0194-5998(96)70082-7
  • Education
  • Medicine


Abstract The modified Seldinger technique for transtracheal oxygen catheter insertion is relatively straightforward, but tract problems during subsequent oxygen therapy are not uncommon. With the modified Seldinger technique method, transtracheal oxygen is not initiated until 1 week after the procedure. Six to 8 weeks are required for tract epithelialization, which allows routine catheter removal and cleaning by the patient. Without removal, mucus tends to collect and form balls on the catheter tip, creating a management problem. Previous studies suggest a significant incidence of tracheal chondritis, keloid formation, and inadvertent catheter dislodgment. In 7% to 10% of patients, the epithelial tract cannot be recovered by medical personnel, and complete closure occurs. We have developed a surgical technique for the creation of a controlled tracheocutaneous tract. Highlights of the minitrach include skin flap elevation, cervical lipectomy, resection of a small window of tracheal cartilage, and approximation of the skin flaps to the window. We evaluated 33 patients who underwent the minitrach procedure as an access method for receiving transtracheal oxygen. When compared with results from 64 patients followed up for a similar period with the modified Seldinger technique, results with minitrach showed that transtracheal oxygen could be instituted sooner (<24 hours), and symptomatic mucus balls were reduced because the tract matured more quickly (approximately 14 days). With the minitrach there were no inadvertent catheter dislodgments, as compared with 41% of modified Seldinger technique patients who had one or more episodes of catheter dislodgment. Twelve percent of minitrach patients had a single episode of chondritis, as compared with 25% of the modified Seldinger technique patients, who had one or more episodes. The minitrach was well tolerated in this group of patients with severe pulmonary and/or cardiovascular disease. In 12 of these patients, a minitrach revision of their previous modified Seldinger technique tracts resolved recurrent problems with chondritis, lost tracts, and keloids. We conclude that the minitrach promotes early institution of transtracheal oxygen, simplifies an intense postprocedure educational and management process, facilitates tract maturation, and reduces the incidence of problems related to mucus balls, lost tracts, chondritis, and keloids. The minitrach can be used as a revision procedure to resolve tract problems encountered with modified Seldinger technique. We are now using the minitrach as the preferred procedure for the institution of transtracheal oxygen. The minitrach greatly improves and simplifies the transtracheal oxygen program, and the otolaryngologist becomes an important member of the transtracheal oxygen team. (Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1996;115:447-53.)

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