Resolution of Tracheostomy Complications by Decanulation and Conversion to Noninvasive Management for a Patient With High-Level Tetraplegia

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To report conversion from tracheostomy (TIV) to noninvasive intermittent positive pressure ventilation (NIV) for a continuously ventilator-dependent patient with high-level spinal cord injury (SCI) with no measurable vital capacity (VC = 0 mL) to resolve tracheostomy-associated complications.


A case report of a 38-year-old female in a chronic care facility in Japan with a 10-year history of ventilator-dependent tetraplegia (CI ASIA-A) presented for increasing difficulty vocalizing. She had been using a fenestrated cuffed tracheostomy tube to produce speech with the cuff deflated. Speech was increasingly hypophonic, because of tracheostoma enlargement, tube migration, and tracheal granulation.


The NIV was provided via nasal and oral interfaces, the ostomy was surgically closed, and vocalization resumed. Airway secretions were expulsed using manually assisted coughing. The patient returned to the community.


Conversion to NIV should be considered for ventilator-dependent patients with SCI who have adequate bulbar-innervated muscle function to permit effective speech and assisted coughing.

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