Tracheostomal fire during an elective tracheostomy

Department of Otolaryngology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ROC.
Chang Gung medical journal 04/2005; 28(3):186-90.
Source: PubMed


Some surgeries, a tracheostomy and oral surgeries in particular, have a higher risk of fire. Often it can occur when leaking flammable gas contacts an ignition heat source. Fire during a tracheostomy can sometimes be seen to produce different degrees of insult to the patient. The essential components of a fire, i.e., the fuel source, ignition, and an oxidizer, can be avoided or blocked in order to prevent fires from occurring. Herein, we discuss a fire during a tracheotomy, and ways to avoid its occurrence, and how to stop once it gets started. This case demonstrates 2 important points regarding tracheostomies. First, extreme caution should be exercised when cautery is used in an approximately 100% oxygen gaseous condition, and second, immediate extubation is not absolutely necessary if a fire breaks out during a tracheostomy. The procedures which can be taken when facing this type of emergency are also considered and discussed.

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    • "In the case of certain operations, especially in tracheostomies and in the oral region, there could be an occasional risk of fire [1]. When flammable gas leaks and comes into contact with a heat source, the risk of fire becomes very large; and not only the gas itself, but also the entire tube and presence of high concentration of oxygen can further increase the risk of fire [2,3]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Every operation could have a fire emergency, especially in the case of a tracheostomy. When a flammable gas meets a source of heat, the danger of fire is remarkable. A tracheal tube filled with a high concentration of oxygen is also a great risk factor for fire. Intra-tracheal tube fire is a rare, yet critical emergency with catastrophic consequences. Thus, numerous precautions are taken during a tracheostomy like, use of a special tube to prevent laser damage, ballooning of the tube with normal saline instead of air, and dilution of FiO(2) with helium or nitrogen. Since the first recorded cases on tube fires, most of the fires were initiated in the balloon and the tip. In the present case report, however, we came across a fire incidence, which originated from the wire.
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    ABSTRACT: Open tracheostomy is commonly performed during head and neck surgery, and in critically ill patients. Diathermy-induced airway fire during tracheotomy is rare but may have grave implications. Recommendations to minimize this risk are not always practical. We hypothesized that flooding the surgical field with carbon dioxide is an effective technique in preventing fire. We cut through the trachea of two pigs using diathermy while ventilating with pure oxygen five times with, and five times without, simultaneous flushing of the surgical field with carbon dioxide at 10 L/min. To increase the amount of oxygen in the airway and the likelihood of fire,we deliberately deflated the endotracheal cuff to simulate cuff rupture. Five times out of five, fire was induced when the diathermy cut through the tracheal wall with no carbon dioxide being used. Five times out of five, fire was not induced when carbon dioxide was used. The difference was significant (p < 0.008). Flooding the surgical site with carbon dioxide effectively prevents fire during open tracheostomy using diathermy.
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