Thursday, June 20, 2013

More is Not Less, It Just Costs More: Early Tracheostomy, Early Parenteral Nutrition, and Rapid Blood Pressure Lowering in ICH

The past 2 weeks have provided me with some interesting reading of new data that deserve to be integrated with several other studies and themes discussed in this blog.  The three trials below share the goal of intervening early and aggressively so I thought it may be interesting to briefly consider them together.

Firstly, Young et al (May 22/29, 2013 issue of JAMA) report the results of the TracMan multicenter trial of early tracheostomy in ICUs in the UK.  These data seal the deal on an already evolving shift in my views on early tracheostomy that were based on anecdotal experience and earlier data from Rumbak and Terragni.  Briefly, the authors enrolled 899 patients expected to receive at least 7 more days of mechanical ventilation (that prediction was no more reliable in the current trial than it had been in previous trials) and randomized them to receive a trach on day 4 (early) versus on day 10 (late).    The early patients did end up receiving less sedatives and  had a trend toward shorter duration of respiratory support.  But their KM curves are basically superimposable and the mortality rates virtually identical at 30 days.  These data, combined with other available studies, leave little room for subjective interpretation.  Early tracheostomy, it is very likely, does not favorably affect outcomes enough to justify its costs and risks.