Application of a flexible lightwand in percutaneous dilatational tracheotomy

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By comparing flexible lightwand-assisted and conventional endotracheal tube (ETT) withdrawal in percutaneous dilatational tracheotomy (PDT), this paper aims to provide guidance for precise ETT withdrawal by anesthesiologists and accurate determination of the incision site by surgeons.


Sixty patients who underwent PDT in our hospital were randomly divided into the lightwand group (Group L, n = 30) and the withdrawal group (Group W, n = 30) using the envelope method. For Group L patients, a flexible lightwand was inserted into an ETT (based on the patient's size), the light source was positioned at the root of the cuff, and the depth from the root of the cuff to the end of the ETT was marked. The flexible lightwand was inserted into the patient's ETT to the marked depth. The ETT along with the flexible lightwand was withdrawn until the highlighted spot was located at the level of the thyroid cartilage. The incision site was approximately 3 finger widths (approximately 4.8 cm) below the highlighted spot. For Group W patients, the ETT was withdrawn to a tube depth of 17 cm at the upper incisors in males and 15 cm in females, and surgeons determined incision sites without assistance. The following metrics were recorded for the two groups: occurrences of inadvertent extubation, ETT puncture and cuff rupture; success rate of first puncture; hypoxia rate; SpO2 at the time of tracheostomy cannula intubation (T1); and postoperative hemorrhage rate.


Inadvertent extubation, ETT puncture and cuff rupture occurred significantly less frequently in Group L than in Group W, and the success rate of first puncture and SpO2 at T1 were markedly higher in Group L than in Group W. Moreover, significant between-group differences in hypoxia rate and postoperative hemorrhage rate were observed.


The use of a flexible lightwand in PDT is a safe and effective approach. This approach can effectively and directly guide precise ETT repositioning and provide incision site confirmation with few intra- and postoperative anesthesia-related or operative complications compared with the traditional technique of ETT withdrawal to a pre-determined depth.

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