Considerable controversy exists as to whether tracheostomy is ever indicated in burn patients. New advents in the treatment of inhalation injury have improved survival, making the use of tracheostomy more usual. The purpose of this study was to analyze the outcome of tracheostomies, and the effect of time on complications.Patients requiring ventilatory support and tracheostomies were studied. Demographic data, hospital course, ventilatory parameters and complications were analyzed. Two hundred ninety patients required ventilation and 36 tracheostomy. Mean percentage of TBSA burned was 59%±4. Ninety percent of these patients presented with inhalation injury. Mortality in tracheostomy patients was 25 and 16% in all ventilated patients. Thirty-five percent of the patients developed late complications. Patients who had their airway converted to tracheostomy before day 10 postinjury had a significantly lower incidence of subgIottic stenosis, and patients who required airway pressures over 50 cm H2O for more than 10 days had a significantly higher incidence of tracheomalacia. Pneumonia occurred at similar incidence in ventilated and tracheostomy patients.The mortality and late complications of pediatric burn patients with tracheostomy has decreased over the last decade. They do not present with higher incidence of pneumonia. Maintenance of airway pressures below 50 cm H2O and conversion of the artificial airway to tracheostomy before day 10 postinjury may be advisable in patients requiring long term ventilation to prevent late complications. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd and ISBI.