Early tracheostomy in trauma patients

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A retrospective analysis of 118 trauma patients who underwent tracheostomy for airway and pulmonary management was undertaken. Timing of the procedure was defined as early (0-3 days), intermediate (4-7 days), and late > 7 days). Head injury patients received tracheostomy early (p< 0.00003). Aspiration evaluated by modified bedside aspiration test was a frequent occurrence in all three groups with no difference in incidence (p<0.34). Pneumonia was less frequent in the early group compared with the intermediate and late groups (p<0.0034). The incidence of pneumonia in the early group was not different from that observed in early extubated patients (n=282; p<0.23). Our study suggests that early tracheostomy may decrease pulmonary septic complications in trauma patients. Although no change in length of stay can be attributed to the early performance of tracheostomy, preventing pneumonia in the intensive care unit setting with its resulting high expense is beneficial.

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