To assess the effectiveness of a helium-oxygen mixture in reducing postextubation stridor in children hospitalized for burns or trauma.
Randomized, controlled crossover trial.
Harborview Medical Center's Burn and Trauma ICUs from March to September 1989.
Children < 15 yr old who were electively extubated and had symptoms of postextubation stridor, but required < 35% oxygen.
Each treatment (helium-oxygen and oxygen-supplemented room air) was given in random order for 15 min after extubation.
Respiratory distress was assessed by a physician blinded to treatment order using a standard stridor score and clinical judgment.
There were 13 children with 15 extubations; seven (47%) of 15 patients required subsequent treatment with racemic epinephrine or reintubation. Stridor scores were lower with helium-oxygen than with oxygen-supplemented room air (2.8 vs. 3.7, p < .005), and helium-oxygen was preferred in eight of nine trials in which one treatment was clearly favored by the physician.
Because helium-oxygen therapy can reduce stridor scores and is clinically preferred by physicians caring for stridorous children, it may be a useful adjunctive therapy in pediatric trauma patients with postextubation stridor. (Crit Care Med 1991; 19:356)