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Evidence-based guidelines and protocols for the management of adult patients with a tracheostomy: a systematic review


Protocol-based care of the tracheostomised patient is important, as adverse events confer a high rate of mortality. Little is known regarding the existence of formal evidence-based guidelines on tracheostomy care. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review for evidence-based guidelines on adult tracheostomy care.


A systematic search of PubMed, MEDLINE, guideline clearinghouses, centres of evidence-based practice, and professional societies' guidelines relating to care of adult patients with a tracheostomy was performed by two reviewers. In addition, a Google search of publicly available tracheostomy care guidelines was performed. Search terms: (tracheostom* OR tracheotom*) AND (protocol* OR guideline* OR standard* OR management OR consensus OR algorithm*). Filters: English language, human, from 1 January 1990 to date, adult patients. Guideline appraisal criteria: the quality of guidelines retrieved was assessed using the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) instrument [1].


The search results are summarised in Table 1. A total of 80 guidelines were identified. Five were found to satisfy the AGREE II criteria and only three related to the entire spectrum of tracheostomy management. The majority was informal and was not published or evidence based.

Table 1 Summary of results returned following systematic review


Five evidence-based guidelines on adult tracheostomy management were identified. This may represent a paucity of evidence on the subject, suggesting that further clinical trials on the topic are needed to contribute to the evidence base. This also highlights the need for international consensus on the topic, to reduce duplication of efforts, standardise practice, and improve outcomes.


  1. 1.

    Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation: Instrument. AGREE II[]

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Correspondence to J Siddiqui.

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Siddiqui, J., Sherren, P. & Birchall, M. Evidence-based guidelines and protocols for the management of adult patients with a tracheostomy: a systematic review. Crit Care 17, P166 (2013).

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  • Systematic Review
  • Adult Patient
  • Search Result
  • Systematic Search
  • Entire Spectrum