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Urgent Airways After Trauma: Who Gets Pneumonia?

Eckert, Matthew J. MD; Davis, Kimberly A. MD; Reed, R Lawrence II MD; Santaniello, John M. MD; Poulakidas, Stathis MD; Esposito, Thomas J. MD, MPH; Luchette, Fred A. MD

The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care: October 2004 - Volume 57 - Issue 4 - p 750-755
doi: 10.1097/01.TA.0000147499.73570.12
Original Articles

Background: Several risk factors, including emergent intubation, severe head injury, shock, blunt trauma, and high severity of injury, have been identified as risk factors for the development of pneumonia after trauma. This study assesses the contribution of emergent intubation to the development of pneumonia after injury.

Methods: A retrospective review of all trauma patients requiring intubation or cricothyroidotomy in the Emergency Department (ED) or in the pre-hospital area (field) over a 41/2 year period.

Results: 571 patients comprised the study population. Of these, 80% had airways established in the ED, while 20% were intubated in the field. Field intubation was associated with a lower Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score (p < 0.0001) and more severe injury (p < 0.0001), particularly to the chest and extremities.

Twenty-five percent of the population developed pneumonia. Patients diagnosed with pneumonia were older (p = 0.009), and had a higher ISS (p < 0.0001), lower GCS score, (p < 0.008), longer ICU and hospital length of stay (p < 0.0001). Injuries to the head, thorax and extremities were more common (p < 0.05) and more severe (p < 0.05) in patients developing pneumonia. The incidence of pneumonia after field airway was significantly higher (35% versus 23%, p = 0.048).

Multiple logistic regression analysis identified field intubation, age, AIS-head, and AIS-extremity as independent risk factors for pneumonia.

Conclusion: Pre-hospital but not ED intubation is an independent risk factor for the development of post-traumatic pneumonia. Other predictors include the severity of injury, specifically head and extremity injuries.

From the Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns (K.A.D., R.L.R., J.M.S., S.P., T.J.E., F.A.L.), Stritch School of Medicine (M.J.E.), Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois.

Submitted for publication March 25, 2004.

Accepted for publication July 1, 2004.

Address for reprints: Kimberly A. Davis, MD FACS, Loyola University Medical Center, Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns, 2160 S. First Avenue, 110–3277, Maywood, IL 60153; email:

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.