Tracheocutaneous Fistula After Pediatric Open Airway Reconstruction

Stephen R. Chorney, Joanne Stow, Luv R. Javia, Karen B. Zur, Ian N. Jacobs, Steven E. Sobol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Tracheocutaneous fistula (TCF) is a common occurrence after pediatric tracheostomy decannulation. However, the persistence of TCF after staged reconstruction of the pediatric airway is not well-described. The primary objective was to determine the rate of persistent TCF after successful decannulation in children with staged open airway reconstruction. Methods: A case series with chart review of children who underwent decannulation after double-stage laryngotracheal reconstruction between 2017 and 2019. Results: A total of 26 children were included. The most common open airway procedure was anterior and posterior costal cartilage grafting (84.6%, 22/26). Median age at decannulation was 3.4 years (IQR: 2.8-4.3) and occurred 7.0 months (IQR: 4.3-10.4) after airway reconstruction. TCF persisted in 84.6% (22/26) of children while 15.4% (4/26) of stomas closed spontaneously. All closures were identified by the one-month follow-up visit. There was no difference in age at tracheostomy (P =.86), age at decannulation (P =.97), duration of tracheostomy (P =.43), or gestational age (P =.23) between stomas that persisted or closed. Median diameter of stent used at reconstruction was larger in TCFs that persisted (7.0 mm vs 6.5 mm, P =.03). Tracheostomy tube diameter (P =.02) and stent size (P <.01) correlated with persistence of TCF on multivariable logistic regression analysis. There were 16 surgical closure procedures, which occurred at a median of 14.4 months (IQR: 11.4-15.4) after decannulation. Techniques included 56.3% (9/16) by primary closure, 18.8% (3/16) by secondary intention and 25% (4/16) by cartilage tracheoplasty. The overall success of closure was 93.8% (15/16) at latest follow-up. Conclusions: Persistent TCF occurs in 85% of children who are successfully decannulated after staged open airway reconstruction. Spontaneous closure could be identified by 1 month after decannulation and was more likely when smaller stents and tracheostomy tubes were utilized. Surgeons should counsel families on the frequency of TCF and the potential for additional procedures needed for closure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)948-953
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • laryngotracheal reconstruction
  • tracheocutaneous fistula
  • tracheostomy decannulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


Dive into the research topics of 'Tracheocutaneous Fistula After Pediatric Open Airway Reconstruction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this