Various operative techniques are used to perform tracheostomies. The objective of this study was to evaluate patient factors that influence the decision to perform a Bjork flap or a window.
A retrospective review was conducted of all patients who underwent tracheostomies from January 2015 to December 2019 at a tertiary care medical center. All patients underwent tracheostomy with either a Bjork flap or a window. Charts were reviewed for demographics, comorbidities, indication for tracheostomy, operative details, and complications.
A total of 217 tracheostomies were evaluated, of which 104 (47.9%) had a Bjork flap and 113 (52.1%) had a window. Bjork flap was significantly more likely to be performed in patients with a higher average body mass index (p = 0.05), requiring ventilatory support (p = 0.0001), or had a stroke (p = 0.0140). A window was used significantly more in patients with prior neck dissection (p = 0.0110) or neck radiation (p < 0.0001). No significant difference was observed for post-op bleeding, returning to the operating room, or days to decannulation. In all tracheostomies, thrombocytopenia was found to significantly correlate with post-op bleeding (p = 0.0006), while blood thinner use did not.
Bjork flaps were more likely to be performed in those with a history of prolonged mechanical ventilation and elevated body mass index. Windows were performed more frequently in patients with a head and neck cancer history. Future prospective studies are needed to compare the outcomes of these techniques and their impacts on the trachea long term.

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