Improving Outcomes Associated with Prehospital Combat Airway Interventions: An Unrealized Opportunity


Schauer SG, Hudson IL, Fisher AD, Dion G, Long B, Blackburn MB, De Lorenzo RA, Shaw TA, April MD 99(5). 0 (Journal Article)

Background: Airway obstruction is the second leading cause of potentially survivable death on the battlefield. Assessing outcomes associated with airway interventions is important, and temporal trends can reflect the influence of training, technology, the system of care, and other factors. We assessed mortality among casualties undergoing prehospital airway intervention occurring over the course of combat operations during 2007-2019. Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of a previously described dataset from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DODTR). We included only casualties with documented placement of an endotracheal tube, cricothyrotomy, or supraglottic airway (SGA) in the prehospital setting. Results: Within the DODTR from January 2007 to December 2019, there were 25,849 adult encounters with documentation of any prehospital activity. Within that group, there were 251 documented cricothyrotomies, 1,147 documented intubations, and 35 documented supraglottic airways placed. Cricothyrotomy recipients had a median age of 25. Within this group, the largest proportion were non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military personnel (35%), were injured by explosives (54%), had a median injury severity score (ISS) of 24, and 60% survived to hospital discharge. Intubation recipients had a median age of 24. Within this group, the largest proportion were non-NATO military personnel (37%), were injured by explosives (57%), had a median ISS of 18, and 76% survived to hospital discharge. SGA recipients had a median age of 28. Within this group, the largest proportion were non-NATO military (37%), were injured by firearms (48%), had a median ISS of 25, and 54% survived to hospital discharge. A downward trend existed in the quantity of all procedures performed during the study period. In both unadjusted and adjusted regression models, we identified no year-to-year differences in survival after prehospital cricothyrotomy or SGA placement. In the unadjusted and adjusted models, we noted a decrease in mortality during the 2007-2008 (odds ratio [OR] for death 0.47, 95% CI 0.26-0.86) and an increase from 2012-2013 (OR 2.10, 95% CI 1.09-4.05) for prehospital intubation. Conclusion: Mortality among combat casualties undergoing prehospital or emergency department airway interventions showed no sustained change during the study period. These findings suggest that advances in airway resuscitation are necessary to achieve mortality improvements in potentially survivable airway injuries in the prehospital setting.

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