JOURNAL ARTICLE

Early versus late tracheostomy in patients with severe traumatic head injury

Nasim Ahmed, Yen-Hong Kuo
Surgical Infections 2007, 8 (3): 343-7
17635057

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: A majority of patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) need ventilatory support and require endotracheal intubation. There has been substantial debate regarding the timing of tracheostomy. We reviewed our data to determine the impact of early tracheostomy on our resources.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review of a consecutive series of patients with severe TBI treated at a Level II trauma center.

METHOD: All 55 patients admitted to the surgical intensive care unit (ICU) with severe TBI from January, 2002 through September, 2005 were reviewed through the trauma registry. The inclusion criteria were severe TBI with a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score < or = eight points at the time of admission and expected survival for longer than three days. All of these patients required mechanical ventilation and subsequently underwent tracheostomy. According to the timing of tracheostomy, subjects were classified as early group (< or = 7 days; N = 27) or late group (> 7 days; N = 28). The Wilcoxon rank sum test, the log-rank test, and Fisher exact tests were used to compare these groups.

RESULT: The average time of the tracheostomy procedure was 5.5 +/- 1.8 (SD) days in the early group and 11.0 +/- 4.3 days in the late group. There were no significant differences between the groups in terms of age, proportion of female sex, GCS, Injury Severity Score, or need for blood transfusion. However, patients in the early group had a significantly shorter stay in the ICU than patients in the late group (19.0 +/- 7.7 vs. 25.8 +/- 11.8 days; P = 0.008). There was no difference between the groups in ventilator days (15.7 +/- 6.0 vs. 20.0 +/- 16.0 days; p = 0.57). There were no significant differences between the groups regarding overall mortality (15% vs. 4%; p = 0.19), incidence of pneumonia prior to tracheostomy (41% vs. 50%; p = 0.59), median total hospital length of stay (24 days vs. 28 days; p = 0.42), discharged to rehabilitation (74% vs. 82%; p = 0.53), or median total hospital cost (292,329 dollars vs. 332,601 dollars; p = 0.26).

CONCLUSION: Early tracheostomy was beneficial, resulting in a shorter ICU stay.

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