Purpose: To evaluate the prevalence of the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) among blunt trauma patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to determine if ARDS is associated with higher mortality, morbidity and worse discharge outcome.
Methods: Blunt trauma patients with TBI (head abbreviated injury score (AIS)> or =4) who developed predefined ARDS criteria between January 2000 and December 2004 were prospectively collected as part of an ongoing ARDS database. Each patient in the TBI+ARDS group was matched with two control TBI patients based on age, injury severity score (ISS) and head AIS. Outcomes including complications, mortality and discharge disability were compared between the two groups.
Results: Among 362 TBI patients, 28 (7.7%) developed ARDS. There were no differences between the two groups with respect to age, sex, ISS, Glasgow coma score (GCS), head, abdomen and extremity AIS. The TBI+ARDS group had significantly more patients with chest AIS> or =3 (57.1% versus 32.1%, p=0.03). There was no difference with respect to overall mortality between the TBI+ARDS group (50.0%) and the TBI group (51.8%) (OR 0.79: 95% CI 0.31-2.03, p=0.63). There was no significant difference with respect to discharge functional capacity between the two groups. There were significantly more overall complications in the TBI+ARDS group (42.9%) compared to the TBI group (16.1%) (OR 3.66: 95% CI 1.19-11.24, p=0.02). The TBI+ARDS group had an overall mean intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay of 15.6 days, versus 8.4 days in the TBI group (p<0.01). The TBI+ARDS group had significantly higher hospital charges than the TBI group ($210,097 versus $115,342, p<0.01).
Conclusion: The presence of ARDS was not associated with higher mortality or worse discharge disability. It was, however, associated with higher hospital morbidity, longer ICU and hospital length of stay.