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Prevalence of a definitive airway in patients with severe traumatic brain injury received at four urban public university hospitals in India: a cohort study

Abstract

Aim To estimate the proportion of patients arriving with a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) less than 9 who had a definitive airway placed prior to arrival.

Methods We conducted a retrospective analysis of the data from a multicentre, prospective observational research project entitled Towards Improved Trauma Care Outcomes in India. Adults aged ≥18 years with an isolated traumatic brain injury (TBI) who were transferred from another hospital to the emergency department of the participating hospital with a GCS less than 9 were included. Our outcome was a definitive airway, defined as either intubation or surgical airway, placed prior to arrival at a participating centre.

Results The total number of patients eligible for this study was 1499. The median age was 40 years and 84% were male. Road traffic injuries and falls comprised 88% of the causes of isolated TBI. The number of patients with GCS<9 who had a definitive airway placed before reaching the participating centres was 229. Thus, the proportion was 0.15 (95% CI 0.13 to 0.17). The proportions of patients with a definitive airway who arrived after 24 hours (19%) were approximately double the proportion of patients who arrived within 6 hours (10%) after injury to the definitive care centre.

Conclusion The rates of definitive airway placement are poor in adults with an isolated TBI who have been transferred from another health facility to tertiary care centres in India.

  • traumatic brain injury
  • trauma systems
  • low-middle income country

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