A tracheostomy may be associated with a number of early and late complications. Recognition of possible complications can help guide surveillance of the patient.



(1) hemorrhage, which may be minor or major

(2) false placement of cannula into an extratracheal site (especially during emergency reinsertion following decannulation)

(3) hypoxia (during prolonged suctioning or delay in oxygenation)

(4) cardiopulmonary arrest

(5) tube obstruction from mucus plug, blood clot or impingement on the posterior tracheal wall

(6) cuff leak (if a cuffed tube is used)



(1) tracheocutaneous

(2) between trachea and innominate artery

(3) tracheoesophageal

(4) between trachea, esophagus and innominate artery


Air dissection and barotrauma:

(1) pneumothorax

(2) subcutaneous emphysema

(3) mediastinal emphysema



(1) peristomal cellulitis

(2) tracheobronchitis

(3) aspiration pneumonia


Tracheal and/or laryngeal injury:

(1) hoarseness

(2) tracheal stenosis

(3) tracheomalacia

(4) tracheal ring rupture

(5) damage to posterior tracheal wall



(1) damage to thyroid gland

(2) major nerve injury


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