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Apneic oxygenation is associated with a reduction in the incidence of hypoxemia during the RSI of patients with intracranial hemorrhage in the emergency department


Critically ill patients undergoing emergent intubation are at risk of oxygen desaturation during the management of their airway. Patients with intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) are particularly susceptible to the detrimental effects of hypoxemia. Apneic oxygenation (AP OX) may be able to reduce the occurrence of oxygen desaturation during the emergent intubation of these patients. We sought to assess the effect AP OX on oxygen desaturation during the rapid sequence intubation (RSI) of patients with ICH in the emergency department (ED). We prospectively collected data on all patients intubated in an urban academic ED over the 2-year period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015. Following each intubation, the operator completed a standardized continuous quality improvement (CQI) data form, which included information on patient, operator and intubation characteristics. Operators recorded data on the use of AP OX, the oxygen flow rate used for AP OX, and the starting and lowest saturations during intubation. Adult patients with ICH who underwent RSI by emergency medicine (EM) residents were included in the analyses. The primary outcome variable was any oxygen saturation <90 % during the intubation. We performed a backward stepwise multivariate logistic regression analysis to identify variables associated with oxygen desaturation. The primary independent variable of interest was the use of AP OX during the intubation. Inclusion criteria for the study was met by 127 patients. AP OX was used in 72 patients (AP OX group) and was not used in 55 patients (NO AP OX group). The incidence of desaturation was 5/72 (7 %) in the AP OX group and was 16/55 (29 %) in the NO AP OX group. In the multivariate logistic regression analysis the use of AP OX was associated with a reduced odds of desaturation (aOR 0.13; 95 % CI 0.03–0.53). Patients with ICH who received AP OX during RSI in the ED were seven times less likely to have an oxygen saturation of <90 % during the intubation compared to patients who did not receive AP OX. AP OX is a simple intervention that may minimize the risk of oxygen desaturation during the RSI of patients with ICH.

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Correspondence to John C. Sakles.

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This study received an exemption from the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board.

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This project was evaluated by the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board (IRB) who determined that there was no risk to patients and thus waived the need for informed consent.

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Sakles, J.C., Mosier, J.M., Patanwala, A.E. et al. Apneic oxygenation is associated with a reduction in the incidence of hypoxemia during the RSI of patients with intracranial hemorrhage in the emergency department. Intern Emerg Med 11, 983–992 (2016).

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  • Rapid sequence intubation
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Apneic oxygenation