Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 10, pp 1779–1787 | Cite as

Early tracheotomy versus prolonged endotracheal intubation in unselected severely ill ICU patients

  • François Blot
  • Thomas Similowski
  • Jean-Louis Trouillet
  • Patrick Chardon
  • Jean-Michel Korach
  • Marie-Alyette Costa
  • Didier Journois
  • Guillaume Thiéry
  • Muriel Fartoukh
  • Isabelle Pipien
  • Nicolas Bruder
  • David Orlikowski
  • Frédéric Tankere
  • Isabelle Durand-Zaleski
  • Christian Auboyer
  • Gérard Nitenberg
  • Laurent Holzapfel
  • Alain Tenaillon
  • Jean Chastre
  • Agnès Laplanche



Although several advantages are attributed to tracheotomy in ICU patients requiring mechanical ventilation (MV), true benefits and the optimal timing of tracheotomy remain controversial. In this study, we compared early tracheotomy (ET) with prolonged intubation (PI) in severely ill patients requiring prolonged MV.


Prospective, randomized study.


Twenty-five medical and surgical ICUs in France.


Patients expected to require MV > 7 days.

Measurements and results

Patients were randomised to either (open or percutaneous) ET within 4 days or PI. The primary end-point was 28-day mortality. Secondary end-points were: the incidence of ICU-acquired pneumonia, number of d1-d28 ventilator-free days, time spent in the ICU, 60-day mortality, number of septic episodes, amount of sedation, comfort and laryngeal and tracheal complications. A sample size of 470 patients was considered necessary to obtain a reduction from 45 to 32% in 28-day mortality. After 30 months, 123 patients had been included (ET = 61, PI = 62) in 25 centres and the study was prematurely closed. All group characteristics were similar upon admission to ICU. No difference was found between the two groups for any of the primary or secondary end-points. Greater comfort was the sole benefit afforded by tracheotomy after subjective self-assessment by patients.


The trial did not demonstrate any major benefit of tracheotomy in a general population of ICU patients, as suggested in a previous meta-analysis, but was underpowered to draw any firm conclusions. The potential advantage of ET may be restricted to selected groups of patients.


Tracheotomy Tracheostomy Mechanical ventilation Intensive care unit Critical care ICU-acquired pneumonia Hospital mortality Randomised controlled trial 



TRACHEO trial group. Grant from the Délégation à la Recherche Clinique (PHRC 2002) and ANTADIR (Association fédérative Nationale pour le Traitement A Domicile de l’Insuffisance Respiratoire Chronique). The study was endorsed by the French learned societies for Intensive Care Medicine  (Société de Réanimation de Langue Française), Anesthesiology (Société Française d’Anesthésie-Réanimation), and Respiratory Medicine (Société de Pneumologie de Langue Française).

Authors thank Lorna Saint Ange for editing; Anne-Marie Flaux and Dominique Meunier for their outstanding efforts in monitoring and planning the study; Antonella Pinna and Anne-Sophie Veillard for invaluable help in data monitoring; Armelle Morin for secretarial assistance; all the staff members of all the participating hospitals and ICUs who were associated with the study; and the members of the Délégation Régionale à la Recherche Clinique, for their help in conducting the study.

Supplementary material

134_2008_1195_MOESM1_ESM.doc (252 kb)
Supplementary material (DOC 252 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • François Blot
    • 1
  • Thomas Similowski
    • 2
  • Jean-Louis Trouillet
    • 3
  • Patrick Chardon
    • 4
  • Jean-Michel Korach
    • 5
  • Marie-Alyette Costa
    • 6
  • Didier Journois
    • 7
  • Guillaume Thiéry
    • 8
  • Muriel Fartoukh
    • 9
  • Isabelle Pipien
    • 10
  • Nicolas Bruder
    • 11
  • David Orlikowski
    • 12
  • Frédéric Tankere
    • 13
  • Isabelle Durand-Zaleski
    • 14
  • Christian Auboyer
    • 15
  • Gérard Nitenberg
    • 1
  • Laurent Holzapfel
    • 16
  • Alain Tenaillon
    • 17
  • Jean Chastre
    • 3
  • Agnès Laplanche
    • 18
  1. 1.Intensive Care UnitInstitut Gustave RoussyVillejuif CedexFrance
  2. 2.Department of Respiratory Medicine and Intensive CareGroupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, AP-HPParisFrance
  3. 3.Intensive Care UnitGroupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, AP-HPParisFrance
  4. 4.Medical-surgical ICUHôpital LapeyronieMontpellierFrance
  5. 5.Medical-surgical ICUCentre HospitalierChalons-en-ChampagneFrance
  6. 6.Nephrology ICUHôpital Tenon, AP-HPParisFrance
  7. 7.Université Descartes, Intensive Care UnitHôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, AP-HPParisFrance
  8. 8.Medical ICUHôpital Saint Louis, AP-HPParisFrance
  9. 9.Pneumology ICUHôpital Tenon, AP-HPParisFrance
  10. 10.Medical-surgical ICUCentre Hospitalier des Quatre VillesSaint-CloudFrance
  11. 11.Medical-surgical ICUHôpital TimoneMarseilleFrance
  12. 12.Medical ICUHôpital Raymond Poincaré, AP-HPGarchesFrance
  13. 13.Department of OtorhinolaryngologyGroupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, AP-HPParisFrance
  14. 14.Department of Public HealthHôpital Henri Mondor, AP-HPCréteilFrance
  15. 15.Medical-surgical ICUHôpital NordSaint-EtienneFrance
  16. 16.Medical-surgical ICUCentre HospitalierBourg en BresseFrance
  17. 17.Medical-surgical ICUCentre Hospitalier Sud FrancilienEvryFrance
  18. 18.Biostatistics UnitInstitut Gustave RoussyVillejuifFrance

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