Objective: To compare the effects of early tracheostomy and of late tracheostomy in patients with acute severe brain injury.
Methods: A retrospective study involving 28 patients admitted to the ICU of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora University Hospital in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, diagnosed with acute severe brain injury and presenting with a Glasgow coma scale (GCS) score < 8 within the first 48 h of hospitalization. The patients were divided into two groups: early tracheostomy (ET), performed within the first 8 days after admission; and late tracheostomy (LT), performed after postadmission day 8. At admission, we collected demographic data and determined the following scores: Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II, GCS and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA).
Results: There were no significant differences between the groups (ET vs. LT) regarding the demographic data or the scores: APACHE II (26 +/- 6 vs. 28 +/- 8; p = 0.37), SOFA (6.3 +/- 2.7 vs. 7.2 +/- 3.0; p = 0.43) and GCS (5.4 +/- 1.7 vs. 5.5 +/- 1.7; p = 0.87). The 28-day mortality rate was lower in the ET group (9% vs. 47%; p = 0.04). Nosocomial pneumonia occurring within the first 7 days was less common in the ET group, although the difference was not significant (0% vs. 23%; p = 0.13). There were no differences regarding the occurrence of late pneumonia or in the duration of mechanical ventilation between the groups.
Conclusions: On the basis of these findings, early tracheostomy should be considered in patients with acute severe brain injury.