Timing of tracheostomy placement among children with severe traumatic brain injury: A propensity-matched analysis

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery








Pediatric; timing; tracheostomy; traumatic brain injury


© 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved. BACKGROUND Early tracheostomy has been associated with shorter hospital stay and fewer complications in adult trauma patients. Guidelines for tracheostomy have not been established for children with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). The purpose of this study was to (1) define nationwide trends in time to extubation and time to tracheostomy and (2) determine if early tracheostomy is associated with decreased length of stay and fewer complications in children with severe TBI. METHODS Records of children (<15 years) with severe TBI (head Abbreviated Injury Severity [AIS] score ≥3) who were mechanically ventilated (>48 hours) were obtained from the National Trauma Data Bank (2007-2015). Outcomes after early (≤14 days) and late (≥15 days) tracheostomy placement were compared using 1:1 propensity score matching to control for potential confounding by indication. Propensity scores were calculated based on age, race, pulse, blood pressure, Glasgow Coma Scale motor score, injury mechanism, associated injury Abbreviated Injury Severity scores, TBI subtype, craniotomy, and intracranial pressure monitor placement. RESULTS Among 6,101 children with severe TBI, 5,740 (94%) were extubated or died without tracheostomy, 95% of the time within 18 days. Tracheostomy was performed in 361 children (6%) at a median [interquartile range] of 15 [10, 22] days. Using propensity score matching, we compared 121 matched pairs with early or late tracheostomy. Early tracheostomy was associated with fewer ventilator days (14 [9, 19] vs. 25 [19, 35]), intensive care unit days (19 [14, 25] vs. 31 [24, 43]), and hospital days (26 [19, 41] vs. 39 [31, 54], all p < 0.05). Pneumonia (24% vs. 41%), venous thromboembolism (3% vs. 13%), and decubitus ulcer (4% vs. 13%) occurred less frequently with early tracheostomy (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS Early tracheostomy is associated with shorter hospital stay and fewer complications among children with severe TBI. Extubation without tracheostomy is rare beyond 18 days after injury. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Prognostic and epidemiological, retrospective comparative study, level III.

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