Obtaining a chest radiograph (CXR) after open tracheostomy has been standard practice for many surgeons. We hypothesized that routine CXR after uncomplicated open tracheostomy is unnecessary. A prospective multicenter protocol was carried out on adult surgical patients undergoing uncomplicated tracheostomy. CXR was not routinely ordered in the immediate postoperative period but was obtained only for clinical indications. Preoperative and subsequent postoperative CXRs were reviewed for evidence of complications. Twenty-two surgeons at four institutions performed 151 tracheostomies. Posttracheostomy CXR was not diagnostic in four patients with potential tracheostomy-related complications (i.e., tachypnea, tachycardia, desaturation, and elevated peak airway pressure). In the 147 patients without clinical indications for CXR subsequent CXR revealed no significant new findings. In this era of cost containment the need for CXR after tracheostomy must be questioned. Routine CXR is not indicated or cost effective after uncomplicated open tracheostomy in adults.
The American surgeon 02/2002; 68(1):80-2. · 0.92 Impact Factor