Are fenestrated tracheostomy tubes still valuable?

Vinciya Pandian, Sarah E. Boisen, Shifali Mathews, Therese Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this clinical focus article is to describe the frequency, indications, and outcomes of fenestrated tracheostomy tube use in a large academic institution. Method: A retrospective chart review was conducted to evaluate the use of fenestrated tracheostomy tubes between 2007 and 2017. Patients were included in the study if they were ≥ 18 years of age and received a fenestrated tracheostomy tube in the recent 10-year period. Results: Of 2,000 patients who received a tracheostomy, 15 patients had a fenestrated tracheostomy tube; however, only 5 patients received a fenestrated tracheostomy tube at the study institution. The primary reason why the 15 patients received a tracheostomy was chronic respiratory failure (73%); other reasons included airway obstruction (20%) and airway protection (7%). Thirteen (87%) patients received a fenestrated tracheostomy tube for phonation purposes. The remaining 2 patients received it as a step to weaning. Of the 13 patients who received a fenestrated tracheostomy tube for phonation, only 1 patient was not able to phonate. Nine (60%) patients developed some type of complications: granulation only, 2 (13.3%); granulation and tracheomalacia, 2 (13.3%); granulation and stenosis, 4 (26.7%); and granulation, tracheomalacia, and stenosis, 1 (6.7%). Conclusions: Fenestrated tracheostomy tubes may assist with phonation in patients who cannot tolerate a 1-way speaking valve; however, the risk of developing granulation tissue, tracheomalacia, and tracheal stenosis exists. Health care providers should be educated on the safe use of a fenestrated tracheostomy tube and other options available to improve phonation while ensuring patient safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1028
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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