Impact of early vs. late tracheostomy on weaning: a retrospective analysis

J Bickenbach, M Fries, V Offermanns, R Von Stillfried, R Rossaint, G Marx, R Dembinski
Minerva Anestesiologica 2011, 77 (12): 1176-83

BACKGROUND: Early tracheostomy has been advocated for a number of reasons. Especially in association with weaning from mechanical ventilation, it is known that an early timepoint can help patients being weaned more rapidly from the ventilator. However, timing of tracheostomy is still unknown and evidence is lacking. The effects of early tracheostomy compared with intermediate and late tracheostomy were assessed in critically ill patients.

METHODS: Data collected from January 2005 to December 2007 were conducted for retrospective analysis. All patients needing tracheostomy due to extubation failure and/or weaning failure were included (N.=296). Early tracheostomy (ET) was defined as ≤4 days, intermediate tracheostomy (IT) as tracheostomy within 5-9 days, and late tracheostomy (LT) was defined as ≥10 days after endotracheal intubation. After proving normal distribution, significant changes between the three groups were tested by ANOVA followed by post hoc tests for multiple comparisons (Bonferroni's test).

RESULTS: Intensive care unit (ICU) mortality was significantly higher in the LT group when being compared with the ET but not when being compared with the IT group (40.7% vs. 24.8% vs. 17.1%). Further, a significantly reduced incidence of VAP and sepsis, a smaller amount of ventilator days and a shorter ICU length of stay could be observed for the ET group. Length of weaning was not significantly different between the groups.

CONCLUSION: The length of weaning after tracheostomy is not affected by the timing. It seems beneficial to favour early tracheostomy in order to reduce the time of mechanical ventilation and its associated risks.

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