Tracheostomy following anterior cervical spine fusion in trauma patients
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Traumatic injuries to the cervical spine are frequently accompanied by cervical spinal cord injuries—often necessitating tracheostomy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate patient characteristics and outcomes after undergoing anterior cervical spine fusion (ACSF) with tracheostomy.
All patients with cervical spine injury (CSI) who underwent ACSF and tracheostomy between December 1992 and June 2014 were included in this retrospective data analysis. The study group consisted of 32 men (84 %) and six women (16 %), with an average age of 47 ± 20 years. Blunt trauma to the cervical spine was the cause of CSI in all 38 patients.
The mean Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 30.50 ± 6.25. Eighteen patients sustained severe concomitant injuries related to the spinal injury. In 15 patients (39.5 %), traumatic brain injury (TBI) with fractures of the cranium and/or intracranial lesions were observed. The mean Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score was 11 ± 4.5 (range 3–15). Two tracheostomies (5.3 %) were performed simultaneously with ACSF. The remaining 36 were performed with an average “delay” of 15 ± ten days. We observed no difference in time to tracheostomy among patients initially presenting with an American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) score of either A, B, C or D. Only two patients (5.3 %) were identified as having an infection at the site of ACSF after placement of a tracheostomy. There were no deaths directly related to airway difficulties in our cohort.
Our data show that tracheostomy is safely performed after an average of 15 days post-ACSF, thereby being associated with a very low rate of complications. However, future prospective randomised studies are needed to identify the optimal timing of tracheostomy placement after ACSF. Level of evidence: IV; retrospective case series.
KeywordsTracheostomy ACSF Retrospective study Trauma Infection
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