Mortality Among Children with a Tracheostomy

Taylor B. Teplitzky, Ashley F. Brown, Rebecca L. Brooks, Candice H. Bailey, Cindy Whitney, Ashley Sewell, Yann-Fuu Kou, Romaine F Johnson, Stephen R. Chorney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To characterize the cause of death among children with a tracheostomy. Study Design: Prospective cohort. Methods: All pediatric patients (<18 years) who had a tracheostomy placed at a tertiary care institution between 2015 and 2020 were included. The location and cause of death were recorded along with patient demographics and age. Results: A total of 271 tracheostomies were placed with 46 mortalities reviewed for a mortality rate of 16.8%. Mean age at placement was 1.7 years (SD: 3.4) and mean age at death was 2.9 years (SD: 3.5). Most tracheostomies were placed for respiratory failure (N = 33, 72%). The mean time to death after tracheostomy was 1.2 years (SD: 1.2) and 28% (N = 13) occurred during the same admission as placement. Mean time to death after hospital discharge was 1.3 years (SD: 1.3). Etiology of death was respiratory failure (33%, N = 15), cardiopulmonary arrest (15%, N = 7), unknown (43%, N = 20), or secondary to a tracheostomy-related complication for 9% (N = 4). Location of death was in intensive care units for 41% (N = 19) and 30% died at home (N = 14). Comfort care measures were taken for 37% (N = 17). Severe neurological disability (HR: 4.06, p = 0.003, 95% CI: 1.59–10.34) and congenital heart disease (HR: 2.36, p = 0.009, 95% CI: 1.24–4.48) correlated with time to death on Cox proportional hazard modeling. Conclusions: Nearly one-third of children with a tracheostomy who expire will do so during the same admission as tracheostomy placement. Although progression of underlying disease will lead to most deaths, 9% will be a result of a tracheostomy-related complication, which represents a meaningful target for quality improvement initiatives. Level of Evidence: 3 Laryngoscope, 2022.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • mortality
  • pediatric tracheostomy
  • tracheostomy-related complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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