Tracheotomy versus endotracheal intubation for airway management in deep neck space infections

Jason K. Potter, Alan S. Herford, Edward Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of the present study was to compare costs and outcomes for patients with deep neck infections who were treated with either tracheotomy or endotracheal intubation. Patients and Methods: The charts of 85 patients with deep neck space infections were retrospectively studied. Requirements for inclusion in the study were incision and drainage in the operating room, involvement of more than 1 deep anatomic space, impending airway compromise, and maintenance of a postoperative artificial airway. The 85 patients were divided into 2 groups based on the type of airway used for treatment. Group 1 (n = 34) included patients who received a tracheotomy, and group 2 (n = 51) included patients whose airways were maintained with endotracheal intubation until the swelling had resolved sufficiently for extubation. Results: Patients in group 1 had a shorter overall hospital stay (4.8 vs 5.9 days, NS) and spent less time in the intensive care unit (1.1 vs 3.1 days, P < .05). The overall incidence of complications was 6% for group 1 and 10% for group 2. The rate of complications secondary to loss of airway was 3% for group 1 and 6% for group 2. Average costs associated with intensive care resources were 5 times greater and overall hospital stay costs were 60% greater for group 2. Conclusions: Although both methods of airway control are useful and have a unique set of complications, the use of tracheotomy allowed earlier movement to a noncritical care unit and was associated with fewer intensive care costs and less overall cost of hospitalization. Tracheotomy may therefore provide better utilization of critical care resources in this group of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-354
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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