Use of endotracheal tubes with subglottic secretion drainage reduces ventilator-associated pneumonia in trauma patients

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Patients sustaining traumatic injuries have a higher incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) compared with other critically ill patient populations. Previous studies of patients with predominantly medical diagnoses and use of endotracheal tubes allowing subglottic secretion drainage (ETT-SSD) have shown significant reduction in VAP rates. We hypothesized that the use of ETT-SSD would reduce VAP in trauma patients.


A retrospective review from 2010 to 2014 of adult trauma patients orotracheally intubated for more than 48 hours was performed at a Level 1 trauma center. Patients were compared based on standard endotracheal tube (ETT) versus ETT-SSD for the primary outcome VAP per 1,000 ventilator days. The diagnosis of VAP was made by quantitative bronchoalveolar lavage cultures as defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria. Patients with ETT-SSD were matched to patients with ETT based on age group, sex, mechanism of injury, head and chest Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) score, and Injury Severity Score (ISS).


Of 1,135 patients included in the study, 667 patients had ETT and 468 had ETT-SSD. Groups did not differ by demographics, mechanism of injury, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, alcohol intoxication, or ISS. Patients with ETT-SSD had significantly higher head AIS score but lower chest AIS score. In matched cohorts, ETT-SSD had a lower VAP rate (5.7 vs. 9.3 for ETT, p = 0.03), decreased ventilator days (12 vs. 14, p = 0.04), and decreased intensive care unit length of stay (13 days vs. 16 days, p = 0.003).


After controlling for confounding factors, ETT-SSD decreased VAP rate, ventilator days, and intensive care unit length of stay in trauma patients. In this high-risk patient population, we recommend routine use of ETT-SSD to decrease VAP.


Therapeutic/care management study, level III.

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