Emergent tracheostomy during the pandemic of COVID-19: Slovenian National Recommendations

Robert Šifrer*, Jure Urbančič, Cesare Piazza, Stijn van Weert, Francisco García-Purriños, Janez Benedik, Ivana Tancer, Aleksandar Aničin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Emergent tracheostomy under local anaesthesia is a reliable method of airway management when orotracheal intubation is not possible. COVID-19 is spread through aerosol making the emergent tracheostomy a high-risk procedure for surgeons. The surgical establishment of the air conduit in emergency scenarios must be adjusted for safety reasons. Methods: To establish the Slovenian National Guidelines for airway management in cannot intubate—cannot ventilate situations in COVID-19 positive patients. Results: Good communication and coordination between surgeon and anaesthesiologist is absolutely necessary. Deep general anaesthesia, full muscle relaxation and adequate preoxygenation without intubation are initial steps. The surgical cricothyrotomy is performed quickly, the thin orotracheal tube is inserted, the cuff is inflated and ventilation begins. Following patient stabilisation, the conversion to the tracheostomy is undertaken with the following features: skin infiltration with vasoconstrictor, a vertical incision, avoidance of electrical devices in favour of classical manners of haemostasis, the advancement of the tube towards the carina, performing the tracheal window in complete apnoea following adequate oxygenation, the insertion of non-fenestrated canulla attached to a heat and moisture exchanger, the fixation of canulla with stitches and tapes, and the cricothyrotomy entrance closure. Appropriate safety equipment is equally important. Conclusion: The goal of the guidelines is to make the procedure safer for medical teams, without harming the patients. Further improvements of the guidelines will surely appear as COVID-19 is a new entity and there is not yet much experience in handling it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2209-2217
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number7
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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