INTRODUCTION: COVID-19 infection has resulted in thousands of critically ill patients admitted to ICUs and treated with mechanical ventilation. Percutaneous tracheostomy is a well-known technique utilised as a strategy to wean critically ill patients from mechanical ventilation. Worldwide differences exist in terms of methods, operators, and settings, and questions remain regarding timing and indications. If tracheostomy is to be performed in COVID-19 patients, a safe environment is needed for optimal care. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We present a guidewire dilating forceps tracheostomy procedure in COVID-19 patients that was optimised including apnoea-moments, protective clothing, checklists, and clear protocols. We performed a retrospective analysis of the outcome after tracheostomy in COVID-19 patients between March 2020 and May 2020. RESULTS: The follow-up of the first 16 patients, median age 62 years, revealed a median intubation time until tracheostomy of 18 days and median cannulation time of 20 days. The overall perioperative complication rate and complication rate while cannulated was 19%, mainly superficial bleeding. None of the healthcare providers involved in performing the procedure developed any symptoms of the disease. CONCLUSIONS: This COVID-19-centred strategy based on flexibility, preparation, and cooperation between healthcare providers with different backgrounds facilitated percutaneous tracheostomy in COVID-19 patients without an increase in the overall complication rate or evidence of risk to healthcare providers. Our findings provide initial evidence that tracheostomy can be performed safely as a standard of care for COVID-19 patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation as was standard practice in ICU patients prior to the COVID-19 pandemic to promote ventilator weaning and patient recovery.
- percutaneous tracheostomy
- guidewire dilating forceps tracheostomy