Prehospital intubation in severe thoracic trauma without respiratory insufficiency: a matched-pair analysis based on the Trauma Registry of the German Trauma Society

Steffen Ruchholtz, Christian Waydhas, Claudia Ose, Ulrike Lewan, Dieter Nast-Kolb et al.
Journal of Trauma 2002, 52 (5): 879-86

OBJECTIVE: On the basis of the data of a multicenter study, the impact of prehospital intubation and ventilation in the therapy of severe thoracic trauma without manifest respiratory insufficiency was analyzed.

METHODS: Data were collected prospectively in the Trauma Registry of the German Trauma Society. In a matched-pair analysis, patients with severe thoracic trauma (Abbreviated Injury Scale score of 4) with and without prehospital intubation were compared. Patients were paired with respect to age, injury severity, and prognosis (according to the TRISS method).

RESULTS: From a total of 3,814 patients, two groups (with/without prehospital intubation) of 44 matched patients each with comparable average age (36 vs. 36 years), Injury Severity Score (29 vs. 29), and TRISS (95.2 vs. 95.3) were identified. No patient was unconscious at the scene (all Glasgow Coma Scale scores > or = 8) or presented with severe respiratory insufficiency (all > or = 10 breaths/min). Time between injury and hospital admission was significantly longer (73 minutes; p < 0.05) in the group with prehospital intubation compared with the nonintubated group (47 minutes). Furthermore, fluid requirements in the prehospital period were significantly higher in the intubated patients (3,000 mL vs. 1,000 mL). In the prehospital intubation group, the number of patients with mass transfusion (9 vs. 4) as well as with emergency operations (10 vs. 4) were not significantly different from the nonintubated group. The prehospital intubation group showed a similar incidence of lung failure (17 vs. 14), kidney failure (6 vs. 2), and circulation failure (13 vs. 5). Except for two of the primarily nonintubated patients, all were intubated during their stay in the emergency room or on the intensive care unit. Days of ventilation (median, 7 days) as well as the length of stay on the ICU (median, 11 days) were comparable in both groups. Mortality in the prehospital intubation group was not significantly different between groups (six vs. two deceased).

CONCLUSION: Prognosis with respect to organ failure, treatment time, and mortality is not adversely affected in the German trauma system, if patients with severe thoracic trauma without manifest respiratory insufficiency and without other indications for intubation are not treated with prehospital intubation.

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