Coagulopathy is one of the relative contraindications to percutaneous dilational tracheostomy (PDT). We conducted a retrospective analysis of the records of 483 patients who had undergone PDT at Johns Hopkins Hospital from January 2000 through December 2007 to investigate the safety of PDT in those who were coagulopathic. The number of patients classified as coagulopathic varied greatly according to the particular diagnostic criteria used; 164 patients (33.95%) met one of the three diagnostic criteria (an abnormality in either prothrombin time, partial thromboplastin time, or platelet count), and 32 patients (6.63%) met two or three of these criteria. Complications occurred in 16 patients (3.31%), none of whom met two or more diagnostic criteria; bleeding accounted for 5 of these complications (1.04%). No statistically significant difference was seen in complication rates between the coagulopathic patients and the controls (noncoagulopathic patients). We conclude that in the hands of an experienced surgeon, PDT can be safely performed in patients with abnormal coagulation factors provided that the surgical team strictly adheres to a standardized protocol.
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