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Transtracheal Oxygen Therapy

Kent L. Christopher, MD, RRT, FCCP; Michael D. Schwartz, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care (Dr Christopher), University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; and the Department of Pulmonary/Critical Care (Dr Schwartz), National Jewish Health, Denver, CO.

Correspondence to: Kent L. Christopher, MD, RRT, FCCP, 9086 E Colorado Circle, Denver, CO 80231; e-mail: drkchristopher@comcast.net


For editorial comment see page 238.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2011;139(2):435-440. doi:10.1378/chest.10-1373
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Transtracheal oxygen therapy (TTO) has been used for long-term oxygen therapy for nearly 30 years. Numerous investigators have explored the potential benefits of TTO. Those results are reviewed in this article. TTO is best viewed not as a catheter but as a program for care. This article discusses patient selection for TTO. Publications evaluating complications are reviewed. In the past, a modified Seldinger technique (MST) was used for the creation of the tracheocutaneous fistula. The rather long program required for tract maturation with MST was labor-intensive and required substantial patient education and monitoring, particularly during the immature tract phase. Minor complications were not infrequent. More recently, the Lipkin method has been used to create a surgical tract under conscious sedation with topical anesthesia. The procedure is safe and well tolerated. Transtracheal oxygen is initiated the day following the procedure. Similarly, the tract matures in 7 to 10 days rather than the 6 to 8 weeks with MST. More rapid healing time and superior tract characteristics substantially reduce complications. The TTO program tailored for the Lipkin procedure is shortened, streamlined, and much less labor-intensive. Optimal outcomes with the TTO program require a committed pulmonologist, respiratory therapist, nurse, and surgeon (for the Lipkin procedure). This article discusses new directions in the use of transtracheal gas delivery, including the management of obstructive sleep apnea. Preliminary investigations regarding transtracheal augmented ventilation are presented. These include nocturnal use in severe chronic lung disease and liberation from prolonged mechanical ventilation.


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