Tag Archives: outcome


TracMan results

The TracMan trial – a multicentre randomised trial of early vs late tracheostomy in ICU patients – has been published, showing no difference in the primary outcome of mortality.

A review of the trial is posted on the excellent PulmCCM blog:

There was no proven difference between groups in 30-day mortality (30.8% early vs. 31.5% late, primary outcome), nor in any other outcome including 2-year mortality.

Patients getting early tracheostomies required fewer days of sedation, and there was a suggestion of a reduction of -1.7 ventilator days with early trach (mean 13.6 days vs 15.2 days, p=0.06). However, ICU stays were exactly equal at a median 13 days.

Also, 7% of patients had significant bleeding attributed to their tracheostomies (defined as needing IV fluids or another intervention); this amounted to 11 patients in the early group and 8 in the late group.

PulmCCM is an excellent free resource that will deliver critical care updates to your inbox. It has a number of other useful features, like free board review questions – highly recommended!

Effect of early vs late tracheostomy placement on survival in patients receiving mechanical ventilation: the TracMan randomized trial
JAMA. 2013 May 22;309(20):2121-9


IMPORTANCE: Tracheostomy is a widely used intervention in adult critical care units. There is little evidence to guide clinicians regarding the optimal timing for this procedure.

OBJECTIVE: To test whether early vs late tracheostomy would be associated with lower mortality in adult patients requiring mechanical ventilation in critical care units.

DESIGN AND SETTING: An open multicentered randomized clinical trial conducted between 2004 and 2011 involving 70 adult general and 2 cardiothoracic critical care units in 13 university and 59 nonuniversity hospitals in the United Kingdom.

PARTICIPANTS: Of 1032 eligible patients, 909 adult patients breathing with the aid of mechanical ventilation for less than 4 days and identified by the treating physician as likely to require at least 7 more days of mechanical ventilation.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients were randomized 1:1 to early tracheostomy (within 4 days) or late tracheostomy (after 10 days if still indicated).

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome measure was 30-day mortality and the analysis was by intention to treat.

RESULTS: Of the 455 patients assigned to early tracheostomy, 91.9% (95% CI, 89.0%-94.1%) received a tracheostomy and of 454 assigned to late tracheostomy, 44.9% (95% CI, 40.4%-49.5%) received a tracheostomy. All-cause mortality 30 days after randomization was 30.8% (95% CI, 26.7%-35.2%) in the early and 31.5% (95% CI, 27.3%-35.9%) in the late group (absolute risk reduction for early vs late, 0.7%; 95% CI, -5.4% to 6.7%). Two-year mortality was 51.0% (95% CI, 46.4%-55.6%) in the early and 53.7% (95% CI, 49.1%-58.3%) in the late group (P = .74). Median critical care unit length of stay in survivors was 13.0 days in the early and 13.1 days in the late group (P = .74). Tracheostomy-related complications were reported for 6.3% (95% CI, 4.6%-8.5%) of patients (5.5% in the early group, 7.8% in the late group).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: For patients breathing with the aid of mechanical ventilation treated in adult critical care units in the United Kingdom, tracheostomy within 4 days of critical care admission was not associated with an improvement in 30-day mortality or other important secondary outcomes. The ability of clinicians to predict which patients required extended ventilatory support was limited.

Difficult intubation on ICU

icu-intub-iconA score to predict difficulty of intubation in ICU patients underwent derivation and validation in French ICUs. The main predictors included Mallampati score III or IV, obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, reduced mobility of cervical spine, limited mouth opening, severe hypoxia, coma, and where the operator was a nonanesthesiologist.

The striking thing is the overall rate of difficult intubations, defined as three or more laryngoscopy attempts or taking over 10 minutes using conventional laryngoscopy(!) and the high rate of severe complications.

The incidence of difficult intubation was 11.3% (113 of 1,000 intubation procedures) in the original cohort and 8% (32 of 400 intubation procedures) in the validation cohort.

In the development cohort, overall complications occurred in 437 of 1,000 intubation procedures (43.7%), with 381 (38.1%) severe complications (26 cardiac arrests, 2.6%; five deaths, 0.5%; 274 severe collapses, 27.4%; 155 severe hypoxemia, 15.5%) and 112 (11.2%) moderate complications (15 agitations, 1.5%; 32 cardiac arrhythmias, 3.2%; 23 aspirations, 2.3%; 48 esophageal intubations, 4.8%; six dental injuries, 0.6%).

There is no comment on incidence of propofol use for induction; I was tempted to speculate whether it was implicated in any of the cardiac arrests – something we observe time and again in the critically ill – but the authors state: “The drugs used for intubation, in particular neuromuscular blockers, did not differ between groups… However, midazolam use was more frequent in case of difficult intubation.

Capnography was used only in 46% of intubations, and there was no mention of checklist use. It is fascinating how some aspects of airway management that might be considered minimum and basic safety standards in some practice settings are not yet routine in other specialties or locations.

An interesting study, from which one of the take home messages for me has to be a resounding ‘Yikes!’.

Early Identification of Patients at Risk for Difficult Intubation in the Intensive Care Unit
Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013 Apr 15;187(8):832-9


Rationale: Difficult intubation in the intensive care unit (ICU) is a challenging issue.

Objectives: To develop and validate a simplified score for identifying patients with difficult intubation in the ICU and to report related complications.

Methods: Data collected in a prospective multicenter study from 1,000 consecutive intubations from 42 ICUs were used to develop a simplified score of difficult intubation, which was then validated externally in 400 consecutive intubation procedures from 18 other ICUs and internally by bootstrap on 1,000 iterations.

Measurements and Main Results: In multivariate analysis, the main predictors of difficult intubation (incidence = 11.3%) were related to patient (Mallampati score III or IV, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, reduced mobility of cervical spine, limited mouth opening); pathology (severe hypoxia, coma); and operator (nonanesthesiologist). From the β parameter, a seven-item simplified score (MACOCHA score) was built, with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.89 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85-0.94). In the validation cohort (prevalence of difficult intubation = 8%), the AUC was 0.86 (95% CI, 0.76-0.96), with a sensitivity of 73%, a specificity of 89%, a negative predictive value of 98%, and a positive predictive value of 36%. After internal validation by bootstrap, the AUC was 0.89 (95% CI, 0.86-0.93). Severe life-threatening events (severe hypoxia, collapse, cardiac arrest, or death) occurred in 38% of the 1,000 cases. Patients with difficult intubation (n = 113) had significantly higher severe life-threatening complications than those who had a nondifficult intubation (51% vs. 36%; P < 0.0001).


Conclusions: Difficult intubation in the ICU is strongly associated with severe life-threatening complications. A simple score including seven clinical items discriminates difficult and nondifficult intubation in the ICU.

Another argument for ED thoracotomy

ICM-iconA team from Los Angeles (including the great Kenji Inaba) has published a study on penetrating cardiac wounds in the pediatric population[1]. This is one of the largest studies on this thankfully rare event.

The outcome was poor which may be due to the high proportion of patients arriving at hospital without signs of life (SOL).

What I like about the paper is the discussion of their liberal policy for the use of resuscitative ED thoracotomy:


…we do not rely heavily on prehospital data regarding the precise timing of loss of SOL. Thus, at the discretion of the attending trauma surgeon, every penetrating injury to the chest with SOL lost during patient transport will be considered for ED thoracotomy.

In cases when a perfusing cardiac rhythm is regained, the patient will receive all operative and critical care support as standard of care. If the patient progresses to brain death, aggressive donor management will be implemented in accordance with consent obtained by the organ procurement organization.

In a recent publication, we observed two pediatric patients who underwent ED thoracotomy that subsequently became organ donors after brain death was declared [2]. A total of nine organs were recovered for transplantation. This contemporary outcome measure is of paramount importance in the current era of significant organ shortage.


When such aggressive resuscitative procedures are attempted on arrested trauma patients, there is a temptation to justify inaction on the grounds of futility or the risk of ‘creating a vegetable’. This paper reminds us that other outcome benefits may arise from attempted resuscitation even if the patient does not survive.

These benefits include the saving of other lives through organ donation. In addition to this, there is the opportunity for family members to be with their loved one on the ICU, to hold their warm hand for the last time, to hear the news broken by a team they have gotten to know and trust, to enact any spiritual or religious rites that may provide a source of comfort and closure, and to be there during withdrawal of life sustaining therapies after diagnosis of brain stem death. That will never be pleasant, but on the bleak spectrum of parental torture it may be better than being told the devastating news in the ED relatives’ room by a stranger they’ve never met but will remember forever.

The ED thoracotomy may at the very least remove any doubt that everything that could have been done, was done.

1. Penetrating cardiac trauma in adolescents: A rare injury with excessive mortality
Journal of Pediatric Surgery (2013) 48, 745–749


Background Penetrating cardiac injuries in pediatric patients are rarely encountered. Likewise, the in-hospital outcome measures following these injuries are poorly described.

Methods All pediatric patients (<18years) sustaining penetrating cardiac injuries between 1/2000 and 12/2010 were retrospectively identified using the trauma registry of an urban level I trauma center. Demographic and admission variables, operative findings, and hospital course were extracted. Outpatient follow-up data were obtained through chart reviews and cardiac-specific imaging studies.

Results During the 11-year study period, 32 of the 4569 pediatric trauma admissions (0.7%) sustained penetrating cardiac injuries. All patients were male and the majority suffered stab wounds (81.2%). The mean systolic blood pressure on admission was 28.8±52.9mmHg and the mean ISS was 46.9±27.7. Cardiac chambers involved were the right ventricle (46.9%), the left ventricle (43.8%), and the right atrium (18.8%). Overall, 9 patients (28.1%) survived to hospital discharge. Outpatient follow-up echocardiography was available for 4 patients (44.4%). An abnormal echocardiography result was found in 1 patient, demonstrating hypokinesia and tricuspid regurgitation.

Conclusions Penetrating cardiac trauma is a rare injury in the pediatric population. Cardiac chambers predominantly involved are the right and left ventricles. This injury is associated with a low in-hospital survival (<30%).

2. Organ donation: an important outcome after resuscitative thoracotomy
J Am Coll Surg. 2010 Oct;211(4):450-5


BACKGROUND: The persistent shortage of transplantable organs remains a critical issue around the world. The purpose of this study was to investigate outcomes, including organ procurement, in trauma patients undergoing resuscitative emergency department thoracotomy (EDT). Our hypothesis was that potential organ donor rescue is one of the important outcomes after traumatic arrest and EDT.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective study at Los Angeles County and University of Southern California Medical Center. Patients undergoing resuscitative EDT from January 1, 2006 through June 30, 2009 were analyzed. Primary outcomes measures included survival. Secondary outcomes included organ donation and the brain-dead potential organ donor.

RESULTS: During the 42-month study period, a total of 263 patients underwent EDT. Return of a pulse was achieved in 85 patients (32.3%). Of those patients, 37 (43.5%) subsequently died in the operating room and 48 (56.5%) survived to the surgical intensive care unit. Overall, 5 patients (1.9%) survived to discharge and 11 patients (4.2%) became potential organ donors. Five of the 11 potential organ donors had sustained a blunt mechanism injury. Of the 11 potential organ donors, 8 did not donate: 4 families declined consent, 3 because of poor organ function, and 1 expired due to cardiopulmonary collapse. Eventually 11 organs (6 kidneys, 2 livers, 2 pancreases, and 1 small bowel) were harvested from 3 donors. Two of the 3 donors had sustained blunt injury and 1 penetrating mechanism of injury.

CONCLUSIONS: Procurement of organs is one of the tangible outcomes after EDT. These organs have the potential to alter the survival and quality of life of more recipients than the number of survivors of the procedure itself.

The importance of first pass success

mv-vl-iconA large single-centre study in an academic tertiary care center emergency department (where residents perform most of the intubations) examined 1,828 orotracheal intubations, of which 1,333 were intubated successfully on the first attempt (72.9%).
Adverse events (AE) captured were oesophageal intubation, oxygen desaturation, witnessed aspiration, mainstem intubation, accidental extubation, cuff leak, dental trauma, laryngospasm, pneumothorax, hypotension, dysrhythmia, and cardiac arrest.

When the first pass was successful, the incidence of AEs was 14.2%. More than one attempt was associated with significantly more AEs. Patients requiring two attempts had 33% more AEs (47.2%) and as the number of attempts increased, so did the risk of AEs, with the largest increase in AEs occurring between an unsuccessful first attempt and the second intubation attempt.

This is a powerful argument in favour of optimising first pass success. In the prehospital service I work for, We like to include this in a ‘first pass, no desat, no hypotension’ package that includes team simulation training, pre-intubation briefing, checklist use, optimisation of position, ketamine induction (and avoidance of propofol), apnoeic oxygenation, bougie use, bimanual laryngoscopy, and waveform capnography.

The Importance of First Pass Success When Performing Orotracheal Intubation in the Emergency Department
Academic Emergency Medicine 2013;20(1):71–78, Free Full Text


Objectives The goal of this study was to determine the association of first pass success with the incidence of adverse events (AEs) during emergency department (ED) intubations.

Methods This was a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected continuous quality improvement data based on orotracheal intubations performed in an academic ED over a 4-year period. Following each intubation, the operator completed a data form regarding multiple aspects of the intubation, including patient and operator characteristics, method of intubation, device used, the number of attempts required, and AEs. Numerous AEs were tracked and included events such as witnessed aspiration, oxygen desaturation, esophageal intubation, hypotension, dysrhythmia, and cardiac arrest. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between the primary predictor variable of interest, first pass success, and the outcome variable, the presence of one or more AEs, after controlling for various other potential risk factors and confounders.

Results Over the 4-year study period, there were 1,828 orotracheal intubations. If the intubation was successful on the first attempt, the incidence of one or more AEs was 14.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 12.4% to 16.2%). In cases requiring two attempts, the incidence of one or more AEs was 47.2% (95% CI = 41.8% to 52.7%); in cases requiring three attempts, the incidence of one or more AEs was 63.6% (95% CI = 53.7% to 72.6%); and in cases requiring four or more attempts, the incidence of one or more AEs was 70.6% (95% CI = 56.2.3% to 82.5%). Multivariable logistic regression showed that more than one attempt at tracheal intubation was a significant predictor of one or more AEs (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 7.52, 95% CI = 5.86 to 9.63).

Conclusions When performing orotracheal intubation in the ED, first pass success is associated with a relatively small incidence of AEs. As the number of attempts increases, the incidence of AEs increases substantially.

Alternative ‘universal’ plasma donor

The group usually considered the universal donor for fresh frozen plasma because it contains no anti-A or anti-B antibodies is Type AB. Due to its limited availability the trauma service of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota has been issuing thawed group A plasma to its flight crews who retrieve major trauma casualties from rural centres. This is given with packed group O red cells to patients who meet their prehospital massive transfusion protocol criteria. Some patients will inevitably receive ABO-incompatible plasma (namely patients with Group B or AB blood) which could theoretically give rise to haemolytic transfusion reactions, in which donor antibodies bind host red cells, activate complement, and give rise to anaemia, disseminated intravascular coagulation, acute kidney injury, and death. However:

  • the transfusion of platelets containing ABO-incompatible plasma is common, with up to 2 units of incompatible plasma per apheresis platelet unit, whereas haemolytic reactions to platelets are rare (1 in 9,000 incompatible platelet transfusions);
  • all reports of haemolytic reactions are caused by products that contain Group O plasma and there has never been a documented case of haemolysis as a result of products containing Group A plasma

A retrospective review showed no increased rates of adverse events with Type A compared with AB or ABO-compatible plasma. Since only a small absolute number of patients received an ABO-incompatible plasma transfusion, it could be argued that the study is underpowered (a point acknowledged by the authors). However this is very important and useful information for resource-limited settings.

Emergency use of prethawed Group A plasma in trauma patients
J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Jan;74(1):69-74


BACKGROUND: Massive transfusion protocols lead to increased use of the rare universal plasma donor, Type AB, potentially limiting supply. Owing to safety data, with a goal of avoiding shortages, our blood bank exploited Group A rather than AB for all emergency release plasma transfusions. We hypothesized that ABO-incompatible plasma transfusions had mortality similar to ABO-compatible transfusions.

METHODS: Review of all trauma patients receiving emergency release plasma (Group A) from 2008 to 2011 was performed. ABO compatibility was determined post hoc. Deaths before blood typing were eliminated. p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS: Of the 254 patients, 35 (14%) received ABO-incompatible and 219 (86%) received ABO-compatible transfusions. There was no difference in age (56 years vs. 59 years), sex (63% vs. 63% male), Injury Severity Score (ISS) (25 vs. 22), or time spent in the trauma bay (24 vs. 26.5 minutes). Median blood product units transfused were similar: emergency release plasma (2 vs. 2), total plasma at 24 hours (6 vs. 4), total red blood cells at 24 hours (5 vs. 4), plasma-red blood cells at 24 hours (1.3:1 vs. 1.1:1), and plasma deficits at 24 hours (2 vs. 1). Overall complications were similar (43% vs. 35%) as were rates of possible transfusion-related acute lung injury (2.9% vs. 1.8%), acute lung injury (3.7% vs. 2.5%), adult respiratory distress syndrome (2.9% vs. 1.8%), deep venous thrombosis (2.9% vs. 4.1%), pulmonary embolism (5.8% vs. 7.3%), and death (20% vs. 22%). Ventilator (6 vs. 3), intensive care unit (4 vs. 3), and hospital days (9 vs. 7) were similar. There were no hemolytic reactions. Mortality was significantly greater for the patients who received incompatible plasma if concurrent with a massive transfusion (8% vs. 40%, p = 0.044). Group AB plasma use was decreased by 96.6%.

CONCLUSION: Use of Group A for emergency release plasma resulted in ABO-incompatible transfusions; however, this had little effect on clinical outcomes. Blood banks reticent to adopt massive transfusion protocols owing to supply concerns may safely use plasma Group A, expanding the pool of emergency release plasma donors.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic study, level IV; prognostic study, level III.

Endovascular stroke treatment

Two randomised controlled trials have been published which compare endovascular stroke treatments with intravenous tPA. Both the American Interventional Management of Stroke (IMS) III trial (1) and the Italian SYNTHESIS Expansion trial (2) had Modified Rankin Scores as their primary endpoint. No significant differences in this outcome or in mortality or intracranial haemorrhage rates were found in either trial, and IMS III was terminated early due to futility.

A third trial, from North America, called MR RESCUE, randomised patients within 8 hours after the onset of large vessel, anterior-circulation strokes to undergo mechanical embolectomy or receive standard care(3). No clinical outcome differences were demonstrated.

An accompanying editorial (4) draws the following conclusion:


“The IMS III and SYNTHESIS Expansion studies show that intravenous thrombolysis should continue to be the first-line treatment for patients with acute ischemic stroke within 4.5 hours after stroke onset, even if imaging shows an occluded major intracranial artery. Beyond 4.5 hours, the MR RESCUE trial does not provide data supporting the use of endovascular treatment in patients with an ischemic penumbra of any size.”

Many might argue that showing endovascular treatment is equivalent to thrombolysis just means endovascular treatment doesn’t work, because a significant proportion of the emergency medicine community views this as the correct interpretation of a thorough analysis of the stroke thrombolysis literature.

1. Endovascular Therapy after Intravenous t-PA versus t-PA Alone for Stroke
NEJM Feb 8, 2013 Full Text Link

2. Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke
NEJM Feb 8, 2013 Full Text Link

3. A Trial of Imaging Selection and Endovascular Treatment for Ischemic Stroke
NEJM Feb 8, 2013 Full Text Link

4.Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke — Still Unproven
NEJM Feb 8, 2013 Full Text Link

High Frequency Oscillation Trial Results

Here’s a heads up on a major evidence-based medicine event in critical care: the results of two long awaited randomised controlled trials assessing high-frequency oscillation (HFOV) in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) have both been published, and the full text is available from the New England Journal of Medicine at the links below.

In summary, the Oscillation for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Treated Early (OSCILLATE)(1) and the Oscillation in ARDS (OSCAR)(2) trials showed no improvement in in-hospital death or 30 day mortality, respectively. OSCILLATE was terminated early on the basis of a strong signal for increased mortality with HFOV.

An editorial discusses some of the reasons why these outcomes were seen, which include among other factors the possibility that they were related to increased requirements for sedation, paralysis, and vasoactive drugs in the HFOV patients that were not offset by improvements in oxygenation and lung recruitment.

1. High-Frequency Oscillation in Early Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
NEJM 22 Jan 2013


BACKGROUND Previous trials suggesting that high-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) reduced mortality among adults with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were limited by the use of outdated comparator ventilation strategies and small sample sizes

METHODS In a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial conducted at 39 intensive care units in five countries, we randomly assigned adults with new-onset, moderate-to-severe ARDS to HFOV targeting lung recruitment or to a control ventilation strategy targeting lung recruitment with the use of low tidal volumes and high positive end-expiratory pressure. The primary outcome was the rate of in-hospital death from any cause.

RESULTS On the recommendation of the data monitoring committee, we stopped the trial after 548 of a planned 1200 patients had undergone randomization. The two study groups were well matched at baseline. The HFOV group underwent HFOV for a median of 3 days (interquartile range, 2 to 8); in addition, 34 of 273 patients (12%) in the control group received HFOV for refractory hypoxemia. In-hospital mortality was 47% in the HFOV group, as compared with 35% in the control group (relative risk of death with HFOV, 1.33; 95% confidence interval, 1.09 to 1.64; P=0.005). This finding was independent of baseline abnormalities in oxygenation or respiratory compliance. Patients in the HFOV group received higher doses of midazolam than did patients in the control group (199 mg per day [interquartile range, 100 to 382] vs. 141 mg per day [interquartile range, 68 to 240], P<0.001), and more patients in the HFOV group than in the control group received neuromuscular blockers (83% vs. 68%, P<0.001). In addition, more patients in the HFOV group received vasoactive drugs (91% vs. 84%, P=0.01) and received them for a longer period than did patients in the control group (5 days vs. 3 days, P=0.01).

CONCLUSIONS In adults with moderate-to-severe ARDS, early application of HFOV, as compared with a ventilation strategy of low tidal volume and high positive end-expiratory pressure, does not reduce, and may increase, in-hospital mortality. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Current Controlled Trials numbers, ISRCTN42992782 and ISRCTN87124254, and ClinicalTrials.gov numbers, NCT00474656 and NCT01506401.)

2. High-Frequency Oscillation for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
NEJM 22 Jan 2013


BACKGROUND Patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) require mechanical ventilation to maintain arterial oxygenation, but this treatment may produce secondary lung injury. High-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) may reduce this secondary damage.

METHODS In a multicenter study, we randomly assigned adults requiring mechanical ventilation for ARDS to undergo either HFOV with a Novalung R100 ventilator (Metran) or usual ventilatory care. All the patients had a ratio of the partial pressure of arterial oxygen (PaO2) to the fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) of 200 mm Hg (26.7 kPa) or less and an expected duration of ventilation of at least 2 days. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality 30 days after randomization

RESULTS There was no significant between-group difference in the primary outcome, which occurred in 166 of 398 patients (41.7%) in the HFOV group and 163 of 397 patients (41.1%) in the conventional-ventilation group (P=0.85 by the chi-square test). After adjustment for study center, sex, score on the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II, and the initial PaO2:FiO2 ratio, the odds ratio for survival in the conventional-ventilation group was 1.03 (95% confidence interval, 0.75 to 1.40; P=0.87 by logistic regression).

CONCLUSIONS The use of HFOV had no significant effect on 30-day mortality in patients undergoing mechanical ventilation for ARDS. (Funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme; OSCAR Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN10416500.

Advanced airways and worse outcomes in cardiac arrest

A new study demonstrates an association between advanced prehospital airway management and worse clinical outcomes in patients with cardiac arrest. Done in Japan, the numbers of patients included are staggering: this nationwide population-based cohort study included 658 829 adult patients. They found that CPR with advanced airway management (use of tracheal tubes and even supraglottic airways) was a significant predictor of poor neurological outcome compared with conventional bag-valve-mask ventilation.

Association of Prehospital Advanced Airway Management With Neurologic Outcome and Survival in Patients With Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
JAMA 2013;309(3):257-66


Importance It is unclear whether advanced airway management such as endotracheal intubation or use of supraglottic airway devices in the prehospital setting improves outcomes following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) compared with conventional bag-valve-mask ventilation.

Objective To test the hypothesis that prehospital advanced airway management is associated with favorable outcome after adult OHCA.

Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective, nationwide, population-based study (All-Japan Utstein Registry) involving 649 654 consecutive adult patients in Japan who had an OHCA and in whom resuscitation was attempted by emergency responders with subsequent transport to medical institutions from January 2005 through December 2010.

Main Outcome Measures Favorable neurological outcome 1 month after an OHCA, defined as cerebral performance category 1 or 2.

Results Of the eligible 649 359 patients with OHCA, 367 837 (57%) underwent bag-valve-mask ventilation and 281 522 (43%) advanced airway management, including 41 972 (6%) with endotracheal intubation and 239 550 (37%) with use of supraglottic airways. In the full cohort, the advanced airway group incurred a lower rate of favorable neurological outcome compared with the bag-valve-mask group (1.1% vs 2.9%; odds ratio [OR], 0.38; 95% CI, 0.36-0.39). In multivariable logistic regression, advanced airway management had an OR for favorable neurological outcome of 0.38 (95% CI, 0.37-0.40) after adjusting for age, sex, etiology of arrest, first documented rhythm, witnessed status, type of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, use of public access automated external defibrillator, epinephrine administration, and time intervals. Similarly, the odds of neurologically favorable survival were significantly lower both for endotracheal intubation (adjusted OR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.37-0.45) and for supraglottic airways (adjusted OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.36-0.40). In a propensity score–matched cohort (357 228 patients), the adjusted odds of neurologically favorable survival were significantly lower both for endotracheal intubation (adjusted OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.37-0.55) and for use of supraglottic airways (adjusted OR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.33-0.39). Both endotracheal intubation and use of supraglottic airways were similarly associated with decreased odds of neurologically favorable survival.

Conclusion and Relevance Among adult patients with OHCA, any type of advanced airway management was independently associated with decreased odds of neurologically favorable survival compared with conventional bag-valve-mask ventilation.

Swelling worse than bleeding for injured brains

EDHicon

A study on data from traumatic brain injury patients from the the TARN database examined the prognostic value of various scoring and classification systems and pathologies.

Contusion and haemorrhage appeared to be less significant predictors of outcome than the presence of brain swelling in this British dataset.

The brainstem was the most significant location of cerebral injury.

Prognostic value of various intracranial pathologies in traumatic brain injury
European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery February 2012, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 25-32


Objective Various intracranial pathologies in traumatic brain injury (TBI) can help to predict patient outcomes.
These pathologies can be categorised using the Marshall Classification or the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) dictionary or can be described through traditional descriptive terms such as subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), subdural haemorrhage (SDH), epidural haemorrhage (EDH) etc. The purpose of this study is to assess the prognostic value of AIS scores, the Marshall Classification and various intracranial pathologies in TBI.

Methods A dataset of 802 TBI patients in the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) database was analysed using logistic regression. First, a baseline model was constructed with age, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), pupillary reactivity, cause of injury and presence/absence of extracranial injury as predictors and survival at discharge as the outcome. Subsequently, AIS score, the Marshall Classification and various intracranial pathologies such as haemorrhage, SAH or brain swelling were added in order to assess the relative predictive strength of each variable and also to assess the improvement in the performance of the model.

Results Various AIS scores or Marshal classes did not appear to significantly affect the outcome. Among traditional descriptive terms, only brain stem injury and brain swelling significantly influenced outcome [odds ratios for survival: 0.17 (95% confidence interval [CI]; 0.08–0.40) and 0.48 (95% CI; 0.29–0.80), respectively].
Neither haemorrhage nor its subtypes, such as SAH, SDH and EDH, were significantly associated with outcome. Adding AIS scores, the Marshall Classification and various
intracranial pathologies to the prognostic models resulted in an almost equal increase in the predictive performance of the baseline model.

Conclusions In this relatively recent dataset, each of the brain injury classification systems enhanced equally the performance of an early mortality prediction model in traumatic brain injury patients. The significant effect of brain swelling and brain stem injury on the outcome in comparison to injuries such as SAH suggests the need to improve therapeutic approaches to patients who have sustained these injuries.

Targeted ICP reduction in TBI

A South American randomised controlled trial has demonstrated no improvement in mortality when traumatic brain injured patients had therapy targeted at keeping intracranial pressure below or equal to 20 mmHg as measured by an intraparenchymal monitor. The control group’s management was guided by neurologic examination and serial CT imaging(1).

Editorialist Dr Ropper summarises what we should do with this information well(2):

“[The authors]…do not advocate abandoning the treatment of elevated intracranial pressure any more than the authors of studies on wedge pressure reject the administration of fluid boluses in the treatment of shock”

BACKGROUND

Intracranial-pressure monitoring is considered the standard of care for severe traumatic brain injury and is used frequently, but the efficacy of treatment based on monitoring in improving the outcome has not been rigorously assessed.

METHODS
We conducted a multicenter, controlled trial in which 324 patients 13 years of age or older who had severe traumatic brain injury and were being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) in Bolivia or Ecuador were randomly assigned to one of two specific protocols: guidelines-based management in which a protocol for monitoring intraparenchymal intracranial pressure was used (pressure-monitoring group) or a protocol in which treatment was based on imaging and clinical examination (imaging–clinical examination group). The primary outcome was a composite of survival time, impaired consciousness, and functional status at 3 months and 6 months and neuropsychological status at 6 months; neuropsychological status was assessed by an examiner who was unaware of protocol assignment. This composite measure was based on performance across 21 measures of functional and cognitive status and calculated as a percentile (with 0 indicating the worst performance, and 100 the best performance).

RESULTS
There was no significant between-group difference in the primary outcome, a composite measure based on percentile performance across 21 measures of functional and cognitive status (score, 56 in the pressure-monitoring group vs. 53 in the imaging–clinical examination group; P=0.49). Six-month mortality was 39% in the pressure-monitoring group and 41% in the imaging–clinical examination group (P=0.60). The median length of stay in the ICU was similar in the two groups (12 days in the pressure-monitoring group and 9 days in the imaging–clinical examination group; P=0.25), although the number of days of brain-specific treatments (e.g., administration of hyperosmolar fluids and the use of hyperventilation) in the ICU was higher in the imaging–clinical examination group than in the pressure-monitoring group (4.8 vs. 3.4, P=0.002). The distribution of serious adverse events was similar in the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS
For patients with severe traumatic brain injury, care focused on maintaining monitored intracranial pressure at 20 mm Hg or less was not shown to be superior to care based on imaging and clinical examination

1. A Trial of Intracranial-Pressure Monitoring in Traumatic Brain Injury
N Eng J Med 367;26:2471-2381 Full Text

2. Brain in a Box
N Eng J Med DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe1212289 Full Text