Background: This study's purpose was to determine if early tracheostomy (ET) of severely injured patients reduces days of ventilatory support, the frequency of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), and surgical intensive care unit (SICU) length of stay (LOS).
Methods: This 2-year retrospective review included 185 SICU patients with acute injuries requiring mechanical ventilation and tracheostomy. ET was defined as 7 days or less, and late tracheostomy (LT) as more than 7 days.
Results: The incidence of VAP was significantly higher in the LT group, relative to the ET group (42.3% vs. 27.2%, respectively; P <.05). Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II scores, hospital and SICU LOS, and the number of ventilator days were significantly higher in the LT group.
Conclusions: In patients who required prolonged mechanical ventilation, there was significant decreased incidence of VAP, less ventilator time, and lower ICU LOS when tracheostomy was performed within 7 days after admission to the SICU.