Tracheostomy is common in patients with critical illness. Mechanical ventilation requires the airway to be closed by an inflated tracheostomy tube cuff. Tracheostomy tube cuff rupture is a serious complication of airway management. This case study summarizes the nursing care of a patient who received prolonged mechanical ventilation and had recurrent tracheostomy tube cuff ruptures caused by a tracheal polyp.

Clinical Findings and Diagnosis

An 81-year-old woman was admitted because of acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The patient had undergone percutaneous tracheostomy 3 years earlier because of difficulty in weaning from the ventilator and had recurrent lung infections that led to respiratory failure. A tracheal polyp was identified as the cause of multiple tracheostomy tube cuff ruptures.


After the tracheal polyp was removed with bronchofiberscope guidance, the patient remained hospitalized because of difficulty in ventilator weaning but had no further tracheostomy tube cuff ruptures.


Tracheal polyps that cause tracheostomy tube cuff ruptures are rare, but nurses should be alert to their occurrence. If a tube cuff ruptures in a patient receiving long-term mechanical ventilation, bronchoscopy should be performed as soon as possible to allow for early identification of the cause and ensure patient safety.

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