Hypothesis: The diagnosis of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) carries significant additional morbidity and mortality among critically injured patients.
Design: Retrospective case-control study using a prospectively maintained ARDS database.
Setting: Surgical intensive care unit (ICU) in an academic county hospital.
Patients: All trauma patients admitted to the ICU from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2003, who developed ARDS as defined by (1) acute onset, (2) a partial pressure of arterial oxygen-fraction of inspired oxygen ratio of 200 or less, (3) bilateral pulmonary infiltrates on chest radiographs, and (4) absence of left-sided heart failure. Each patient with ARDS was matched with 2 control patients without ARDS on the basis of sex, age (+/-5 years), mechanism of injury (blunt or penetrating), Injury Severity Score (+/-3), and chest Abbreviated Injury Score (+/-1).
Main outcome measures: Mortality, hospital charges, hospital and ICU lengths of stay, and complications (defined as pneumonia, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, acute renal failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy).
Results: Of 2042 trauma ICU admissions, 216 patients (10.6%) met criteria for ARDS. We identified 432 similarly injured control patients. Compared with controls, trauma patients with ARDS had more complications (43.1% vs 9.5%), longer hospital (32.2 vs 17.9 days) and ICU (22.1 vs 8.4 days) lengths of stay, and higher hospital charges (267,037 dollars vs 136,680 dollars) (P < .01 for all), but mortality was similar (27.8% vs 25.0%, P = .48).
Conclusion: Although ARDS is associated with increased morbidity, hospital and ICU length of stay, and costs, it does not increase overall mortality among critically ill trauma patients.