Tracheostomy in the paediatric patient has been associated with significant morbidity and mortality compared to that in the adult. A retrospective analysis was made of 40 patients up to the age of 12 years having tracheostomies. Upper airway obstruction made up the commonest (32 patients, or 80 per cent) indication for paediatric tracheostomy in our series where males slightly outnumbered females. The majority (31 patients, or 77.5 per cent) underwent the operation under general anaesthesia with endotracheal intubation. Thirty-four (85 per cent) patients underwent ‘planned’ tracheostomies and six (15 per cent) underwent ‘crash’ procedures. Thirteen (32.5 per cent) patients were under the age of one year when tracheostomies were performed. The maximum duration of tracheostomies was between one week to within a month and after one month to within three months; each containing 11 (27.5 per cent) patients.
Sixty-four different surgical procedures were performed on these patients in which laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy were the commonest procedures. Nine (22.5 per cent) had early post-operative and 14 (35 per cent) had late post-operative complications. Among these 40 children with tracheostomies, one (2.5 per cent) died due to a tracheostomy-related cause and 10 (25 per cent) due to the primary disease process itself. Tracheostomies performed to provide access for general anaesthesia for other surgical procedures were associated with a better prognosis.