Objective: To assess the impact of tracheotomy on sedative administration, sedation level, and autonomy of mechanically-ventilated intensive care unit (ICU) patients.
Design, setting, and patients: In this observational study, the charts of all consecutive patients undergoing mechanical ventilation requiring tracheotomy over a 14-month period in our 18-bed tertiary care ICU were reviewed retrospectively. Patients' sedation levels (according to the Riker's 7-level sedation-agitation score) and intravenous (fentanyl and midazolam) and oral (clorazepate and haloperidol) sedative administration were measured daily during the 7 days before and after tracheotomy. We also recorded patients for whom chair positioning and oral alimentation became possible in the days following tracheotomy.
Measurements and main results: Tracheotomy was performed on 72 (23.1%) of the 312 patients undergoing mechanical ventilation for > or = 48 hrs. After tracheotomy, median (25th, 75th percentiles) fentanyl and midazolam administration decreased from 866 (191, 1672) to 71 (3, 426) microg/(patient.day) and from 44 (16, 128) to 7 (1, 42) mg/(patient.day) (p < .001), respectively. Concomitant median time spent heavily sedated decreased from 7 (3, 17) to 1 (0, 6) hrs/day (p < .001), with no increase in agitation time. During the 7 days following tracheotomy, partial oral alimentation became possible for 35 patients (48.6%) and out-of-bed positioning became possible for 16 patients (22.2%).
Conclusion: On the basis of these observations, we conclude that tracheotomized mechanically ventilated ICU patients required less intravenous sedative administration, spent less time heavily sedated, and achieved more autonomy earlier.