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J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2014 Jan;76(1):70-6; discussion 76-8. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3182a8fd6a.

Tracheostomy timing in traumatic brain injury: a propensity-matched cohort study.

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  • 1From the Sunnybrook Research Institute (A.S.A., D.C.S., R.A.F., A.K., C.D.M., A.B.N.), Department of Critical Care (D.C.S., R.A.F.), Division of Neurosurgery (T.G.M.), Department of Research Design and Biostatistics (A.K.), and Department of Surgery (A.B.N.), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center; Clinical Epidemiology Program (A.S.A., D.C.S., R.A.F., J.G.R., A.K., A.B.N.), Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care (D.C.S., R.A.F.), and Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute (J.G.R, A.B.N) and Department of Medicine (J.G.R.), St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto; and Division of Neurosurgery (A.S.A.), University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



The optimal timing of tracheostomy in patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is controversial; observational studies have been challenged through confounding by indication, and interventional studies have rarely enrolled patients with isolated TBI.


We included a cohort of adults with isolated TBI who underwent tracheostomy within 1 of 135 participating centers in the American College of Surgeons' Trauma Quality Improvement Program, during 2009 to 2011. Patients were classified as having undergone early tracheostomy (ET, ≤8 days) versus late tracheostomy (>8 days). Outcomes were compared between propensity score-matched groups to reduce confounding by indication. In sensitivity analyses, we used time-dependent proportional hazard regression to address immortal time bias and assessed the association between hospital ET rate and patients' outcome at the hospital level.


From 1,811 patients, a well-balanced propensity-matched cohort of 1,154 patients was defined. After matching, ET was associated with fewer mechanical ventilation days (median, 10 days vs. 16 days; rate ratio [RR], 0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.66-0.75), shorter intensive care unit stay (median, 13 days vs. 19 days; RR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.66-0.75), shorter hospital length of stay (median, 20 days vs. 27 days; RR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.74-0.86), and lower odds of pneumonia (41.7% vs. 52.7%; odds ratio [OR], 0.64; 95% CI, 0.51-0.80), deep venous thrombosis (8.2% vs. 14.4%; OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.37-0.78), and decubitus ulcer (4.0% vs. 8.9%; OR, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.26-0.71) but no significant difference in pulmonary embolism (1.8% vs. 3.3%; OR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.24-1.10). Hospital mortality was similar between both groups (8.4% vs. 6.8%; OR, 1.25; 95% CI, 0.80-1.96). Results were consistent using several alternate analytic methods.


In this observational study, ET was associated with a shorter duration of mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit stay, and hospital stay but not hospital mortality. ET may represent a mechanism to reduce in-hospital morbidity for patients with TBI.


Therapeutic study, level II.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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