Background: The use of ultrasound to evaluate cervical anatomy and to guide tracheal puncture in real-time has been advocated to improve safety and efficacy of percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy (PDT) in intensive care. Objective: To review the potential role, attributed theoretical benefits and supporting literature for ultrasound during PDT. Results: A significant number of mostly observational studies and case series support this modality. Real-time guidance enables clear visualisation of anatomical landmarks and results in a consistently high success and low complication rate, with appropriate positioning of the tracheal puncture. Recognition of unconventional vascular anatomy enables selection of an appropriate alternative puncture site or an elective open surgical approach. Conclusion: Current literature supports that using ultrasound for percutaneous tracheostomy is quick, safe, reliable and offers a plausible advantage over the traditional landmark guided procedure, especially in select patient groups, such as those who are morbidly obese or have difficult to palpate cervical anatomy.
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