Tracheotomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the ICU setting. Traditionally tracheotomy has been performed by otolaryngologists as well as general surgeons. While percutaneous tracheotomy (PT) has been available for some time, it has only recently gained widespread acceptance with the advent of convenient and safe kits. Over the past decade, there has been increased utilization of this technique. However, there is a relative reluctance of certain surgical specialties to perform and train residents in PT; a previous study identified that only 29% of otolaryngology head and neck surgery (OTO-HNS) departments in the USA perform PT. In this study we aim to investigate the trends of PT usage in general surgery training programs and compare them to those previously described in otolaryngology programs. The study design is multi-institution physician survey and the study method was a survey of 250 general surgery program directors. This survey was identical to a published survey of OTO-HNS and a head-to-head comparison of results was performed. The response rate was 53% (133 programs). 89% of general surgery programs performed open tracheotomy on a regular basis. 75% performed percutaneous tracheotomy on a regular basis. 79% use the Ciaglia Blue Rhino method. Simultaneous video bronchoscopy was used by 67%. 83% of general surgery residency programs train their residents in PT. 61% felt that PT was either safer than or equal to open tracheotomy. PT is performed in a majority of general surgery residency programs and taught to their trainees. This is in contrast to otolaryngology residency programs, which have been shown to prefer open tracheotomies in both practice and teaching. This trend may severely impact the skills of the next generation of otolaryngologists.
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