Study the complication rate of tracheostomy in premature infants and identify contributing factors. Two university-based tertiary care children's hospitals. The charts of 55 neonates who underwent tracheostomy between January 1997 and December 2002 were reviewed. Group 1 included 32 infants born weighing < 1000 grams. Group 2 included 23 infants born weighing < 1000 grams. Group 1 infants had a higher incidence of comorbidities related to prematurity. Thirty-eight infants underwent tracheostomy due to ventilatory dependence, 13 for airway obstruction, and 4 for neurologic debilitation. Sixteen infants (29%) had a complication related to tracheostomy. There was no tracheostomy-related mortality. Tracheostomy in the preterm infant has the potential for significant morbidity. Meticulous technique, surgeon experience and specialized care may play a role in reducing the complication rate. Complications are usually minor and do not require additional surgical intervention. EBM rating: C.
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