Abstract

Percutaneous tracheotomies (PCT) are commonly performed minimally invasive procedures involving the creation of an airway opening through an incision or puncture of the tracheal wall. While the medical intervention is crucial for critical care and the management of acute respiratory failure, tracheostomy complications can lead to severe clinical symptoms due to the alterations of the airways biomechanical properties/structures. The causes and mechanisms underlaying the development of these post-tracheotomy complications remain largely unknown. In this study, we aimed to investigate the needle puncture process and its biomechanical characteristics by using a well establish porcine ex vivo trachea to simulate the forces involved in accessing airways during PCT at varying angular approaches. Given that many procedures involve inserting a needle into the trachea without direct visualization of the tracheal wall, concerns have been raised over the needle punctures through the cartilaginous rings as compared to the space between them may result in fractured cartilage and post-tracheostomy airway complications. We report a difference in puncture force between piercing the cartilage and the annular ligaments and observe that the angle of puncture does not significantly alter the puncture forces. The data collected in this study can guide the design of relevant biomechanical feedback system during airway access procedures and ultimately help refine and optimize PCT.

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