Objective: To determine the time to onset of the adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in patients with thermal injury requiring mechanical ventilation. Secondarily, to consider the burn-related risk factors, demographics, incidence, and mortality for ARDS in this population.¶Design: Retrospective chart review; ARDS defined according to the American-European Consensus Conference and the Lung Injury Severity Score definitions.¶Setting: Regional, tertiary referral, adult burn unit in a university teaching hospital.¶Patients and participants: Patients with thermal injury requiring mechanical ventilation, admitted between 1 January 1991 and 28 February 1995.¶Interventions: None.¶Measurements and results: Of 469 consecutive admissions, 126 (26.9 %) received intubation and mechanical ventilation. ARDS was defined according to the American-European Consensus and Lung Injury Severity Score (score > 2.5) definitions. The mean time to onset of ARDS from admission to the burn unit was 6.9 ± 5.2 and 8.2 ± 10.7 days when defined by the American-European Consensus and Lung Injury Severity Score definitions respectively (p = 0.41). Of the intubated patients, 53.6 and 45.2 % developed ARDS according to the American-European Consensus and Lung Injury Severity Score definitions, respectively (p = 0.19). Using multivariate logistic analysis, only age proved to be an independent risk factor for the development of ARDS (p = 0.03), although there was a trend toward an increased incidence of inhalation injury in patients with ARDS. Mortality was not significantly greater (41.8 vs 32.2 %) in those with ARDS compared to those without (p = 0.27).¶Conclusions: According to the American-European Consensus Conference and the Lung Injury Severity Score definitions, ARDS is common in the adult burn population and has a delayed onset compared to most critical care populations. We found age to be a major predisposing factor for ARDS.
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