A follow-up analysis of factors associated with head-injury mortality after paramedic rapid sequence intubation

J Trauma. 2005 Aug;59(2):486-90. doi: 10.1097/00005373-200508000-00037.


Background: The San Diego Paramedic Rapid Sequence Intubation (RSI) Trial documented an increase in mortality after paramedic RSI, with hyperventilation identified as a contributing factor in a small subgroup analysis. Here we explore factors affecting outcome in the entire cohort of patients undergoing paramedic RSI to confirm previous findings. This also represents a synthesis of findings from previous analyses

Methods: Adult trauma patients with severe head injury (Glasgow Coma Scale score, 3-8) who could not be intubated without RSI were prospectively enrolled in the trial. This analysis excluded patients without traumatic brain injury (head/neck abbreviated injury score <2 or failure to meet Major Trauma Outcome Study criteria) or death in the field or within 30 minutes of arrival. Each remaining trial patient was matched to two nonintubated historical controls from the county trauma registry based on: age, sex, mechanism, abbreviated injury scores for each body system, and Injury Severity Score. Logistic regression, cohort analysis, mean least squares regression, and discordant group analysis were used to explore the impact of various factors on outcome.

Results: Of the 426 trial patients, 352 met inclusion criteria for this analysis and were hand-matched to 704 controls. Trial patients and controls were identical with regard to all matching variables. Mortality was increased in RSI patients versus matched controls (31.8 versus 23.7%; odds ration, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-2.0; p < 0.01). Hyperventilation was associated with an increase in mortality, whereas transport by aeromedical crews after paramedic RSI was associated with improved outcomes. The reported incidence of aspiration pneumonia was higher for the RSI patients.

Conclusion: Paramedic RSI was associated with an increase in mortality compared with matched historical controls. The association between hyperventilation and mortality was confirmed. In addition, patients transported by helicopter after paramedic RSI had improved outcomes. Paramedic RSI did not seem to prevent aspiration pneumonia.

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale
  • Adult
  • Allied Health Personnel
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / epidemiology
  • Hyperventilation / prevention & control
  • Hypocapnia / epidemiology
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome