Airway Management following Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery

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(1) Review airway management in pediatric patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery (CTS); (2) determine the incidence of airway-related complications of CTS in this population.


Case series with chart review.


Tertiary care children’s hospital.


Children undergoing CTS over a 4-year period.


Patients who underwent CTS at a single, tertiary care, children’s hospital between June 1, 2007, and May 31, 2011, were retrospectively reviewed; those <18 years who had open CTS were included. Statistical analysis examined relationships of intubation duration, complications, and need for tracheotomy while comparing patient characteristics, comorbidities, and types of surgery.


Eight hundred seventy-five primary surgeries in 745 patients met inclusion criteria. Mean postoperative intubation duration was 7.2 days and median 3 days. On univariate analysis, significantly longer postoperative intubation requirements were found in patients younger in age, with congenital comorbidities or prematurity, with preoperative ventilation requirements, and those with early postoperative complications. Multivariate analysis found younger age, presence of congenital comorbidities, preoperative intubation requirements, and early postoperative complications each lengthen ventilation requirements. Four patients developed vocal cord paralysis and 5 developed phrenic nerve palsy. Nineteen patients required tracheotomy.


In this large cohort, CTS in the pediatric population is associated with few long-term or permanent airway-related complications. Patients who are younger in age and those with congenital comorbidities, preoperative ventilation requirements, or early postoperative complications required longer periods of postoperative intubation.

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