A prospective trial of elective extubation in brain injured patients meeting extubation criteria for ventilatory support: a feasibility study
Vol12No6 A prospective trial of elective extubation in brain injured patients meeting extubation criteria for ventilatory support: a feasibility study
Edward M Manno 2 3
Alejandro A Rabinstein 2 3
Eelco FM Wijdicks 2 3
Allen W Brown 1 2
William D Freeman 2 4
Vivien H Lee 2 3
Stephen D Weigand 0 2
Mark T Keegan 2 5
Daniel R Brown 2 5
Francis X Whalen 2 5
Tuhin K Roy 2 5
Rolf D Hubmayr 2 4
0 Department of Biostatistics, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine , 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905 , USA
1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine , 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905 , USA
2 Conclusions Recruitment and randomisation of severely brain injured patients appears to be safe and feasible. A large multicentre trial will be needed to determine if stable, severely brain injured patients who meet respiratory and airway control criteria for extubation need to remain intubated
3 Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine , 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905 , USA
4 Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine , 4500 San Pablo Road, Jacksonville, FL 32224 , USA
5 Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine , 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905 , USA
Introduction To assess the safety and feasibility of recruiting mechanically ventilated patients with brain injury who are solely intubated for airway protection and randomising them into early or delayed extubation, and to obtain estimates to refine samplesize calculations for a larger study. The design is a singleblinded block randomised controlled trial. A single large academic medical centre is the setting. Methods Sixteen neurologically stable but severely brain injured patients with a Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) of 8 or less were randomised to early or delayed extubation until their neurological examination improved. Eligible patients met standard respiratory criteria for extubation and passed a modified Airway Care Score (ACS) to ensure adequate control of respiratory secretions. The primary outcome measured between groups was the functional status of the patient at hospital discharge as measured by a Modified Rankin Score (MRS) and Functional Independence Measure (FIM). Secondary measurements included the number of nosocomial pneumonias and re-intubations, and intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital length of stay. Standard statistical assessments were employed for analysis. Results Five female and eleven male patients ranging in age from 30 to 93 years were enrolled. Aetiologies responsible for the neurological injury included six head traumas, three brain tumours, two intracerebral haemorrhages, two subarachnoid haemorrhages and three ischaemic strokes. There were no demographic differences between the groups. There were no unexpected deaths and no significant differences in secondary measures. The difference in means between the MRS and FIM were small (0.25 and 5.62, respectively). These results suggest that between 64 and 110 patients are needed in each treatment arm to detect a treatment effect with 80% power.
More than 200,000 patients per year require mechanical
ventilation primarily for neurological reasons based on rates of
endotracheal intubation for patients with ischaemic and
haemorrhagic stroke, head trauma and subarachnoid haemorrhage
[1-6]. The direct and indirect costs of caring for head trauma
patients alone is greater than 60 billion dollars annually in
productivity losses and lifetime medical costs [3-6]. Improving
outcome in mechanically ventilated brain injured patients
would have significant medical and economic implications.
ABG: arterial blood gas; ACS: Airway Care Score; FiO2: fraction of inspired oxygen; FIM: Functional Independence Measure; GCS: Glasgow Coma
Score; ICU: intensive care unit; MRS: Modified Rankin Score; PaO2: partial pressure of arterial oxygen; PCO2: partial pressure of carbon dioxide;
PO2: partial pressure of oxygen; SD: standard deviation.
Pulmonary complications may be reduced by early extubation,
for example by decreasing the rate of nosocomial pneumonia
[7,8]. Thus, identifying the optimal timing of extubation in a
population of brain injured patients should improve outcome
and shorten length of stay in hospital.
Brain injured patients with compromised levels of
consciousness are usually intubated primarily for concerns of airway
maintenance and not for respiratory issues. Dogma mandates
that patients with Glasgow Coma Scores (GCS) of 8 or less
need to be or remain intubated to 'protect' the airway from
aspiration [9,10]. However, a recent prospective study
evaluating a cohort of brain injured patients found that delaying
extubation based solely on a patients' level of consciousness
led to an increase in the rate of nosocomial pneumonia,
hospital length of stay and worse clinical outcome .
The authors stated that their analysis justified conducting a
randomised controlled trial of early extubation in brain injured
patients . We assessed the feasibility of performing this
study by designing a pilot study of mechanically ventilated
patients with brain injury intubated solely for airway protection
randomised to early or delayed extubation. The purpose was
to gain an insight into patient safety concerns and to obtain
broad estimates of the sample size calculations needed for a
Materials and methods
The eligible study population consisted of all intubated
patients admitted to the neurological intensive care unit (ICU)
at Saint Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. Daily
screening of potential patients occurred during morning
rounds in the neurological ICU by one of the study
investigators. Patients were assessed for the need for continued
endotracheal intubation and were considered potential
candidates for the trial if they were intubated solely because of a
GCS of 8 or less. Enrollment data included routine laboratory
and respiratory profiles obtained for mechanically ventilated
patients in the neurological ICU.
Enrollment criteria included: resolution or improvement of any
pulmonary process requiring mechanical ventilation (such as
congestive heart failure or pneumonia); adequate gas
exchange, as indicated by a ratio of the partial pressure of
arterial oxygen (PaO2) to the fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2)
above 200 with a positive end-expiratory pressure of less than
6 cm of water; adequate ventilation as indicated by a PaCO2
less than 45 torr or a pH between 7.35 and 7.45 if the PaCO2
was less than 45 torr in a patient with known chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease; respiratory rate to tidal volume ratio
less than 105; core body temperature less than 38C;
haemoglobin more than 8 g/dL; and no sedative medications for the
previous two hours.
Neurological requirements included: GCS of 8 or less;
intracranial pressure less than 15 cm of water; and a cerebral
perfusion pressure more than 60 mmHg for patients with
intracranial pressure monitors.
In addition to the above criteria, the responsible attending
physician would have to agree that the patient was in a stable
condition and was ready for extubation.
Exclusion criteria included: age younger than 18 years; lack of
informed consent by the patient's surrogate; dependence on
mechanical ventilation for at least two weeks before
enrollment; presence of tracheostomies; intubation instituted for
therapeutic hyperventilation; planned surgical or radiological
intervention within the next 72 hours; anticipated neurological
or medically worsening conditions (such as development of
cerebral oedema or vasospasm); and intubation for airway
preservation due to airway oedema (cervical neck injuries or
surgery) as opposed to airway protection.
Written informed consent was obtained from the patient's
surrogate if the patient met eligibility requirements. Enrolled
patients underwent a 30 minute T-piece trial with no
continuous positive airway pressure to evaluate readiness for
extubation. The trial was discontinued if any of the following were
noted: respiratory rate of more than 35 breaths per minute for
at least five minutes; arterial saturation below 90% for two
minutes; heart rate more than 140 beats per minute; sustained
changes in heart rate of 20% in either direction; systolic blood
pressure higher than 180 mmHg or lower than 90 mmHg; and
a notable increase in agitation or diaphoresis.
Patients who passed a spontaneous breathing trial were
evaluated using the modified Airway Care Score (ACS) to assess
their ability to control their respiratory secretions (Table 1)
The ACS was assessed by an ICU consultant and either the
nurse or the respiratory therapist who were caring for the
patient or both. ACS assessors were blinded to the other ACS
assessments. Kappa values were calculated for ACS
assessment between physician and nurse, and physician and
respiratory therapist. Differences in ACS assessment were
subsequently resolved by consensus. If the ACS was more
than 7, enrollment was delayed and enrollment criteria were
reassessed 12 hours later.
Patients who passed the T-piece trial and ACS assessments
were eligible for randomisation. A randomised block design
was utilised to assign 16 patients either into a treatment group
that was extubated early or to a control group of continued
intubation. Randomisation assignments were generated and
maintained separately in a sealed, opaque, sequentially
numbered envelope .
Grading for the Airway Care Score.
Passes refers to number of passes of a suctioning catheter that is required to clear the endotracheal tube of secretions. The total score is the
summation of all grades.
Cough to suction
Every 2 to 3 hours
Every 1 to 2 hours
< Every 1 hour
The control group was reevaluated for possible extubation
about every 12 hours during morning and evening rounds
using the above protocol. Patients were routinely extubated if
the above airway and pulmonary criteria were met and the
GCS improved to more than 8 for at least 12 hours. If the
patient's neurological examination did not improve with time, a
trial of extubation was performed at the discretion of the
attending physician to avoid the mandate of tracheostomy
placement. Extubation was considered successful if there was
no re-intubation within 48 hours. The algorithm for extubation
is outlined in Figure 1.
Demographic variables collected at the time of enrollment
included age and sex of patients, GCS  and the primary
cause of neurological deterioration.
GCSs were performed by the attending neurointensivists
(EMM, AAR and EFW) in this study. GCSs were obtained
before and immediately after extubation of all patients. Patients
were given at least a GCS verbal score of one while intubated.
Patients that were able to follow midline and appendicular
commands but were not oriented to verbal questioning
received a verbal score of 3. Patients who were able to follow
commands to questions of orientation were given a verbal
score of 5. The primary cause of neurological deterioration
was categorised into patients with intracerebral haemorrhage,
subarachnoid haemorrhage, ischaemic stroke, head trauma
and/or brain tumours. The number of patients screened was
recorded daily and checked against respiratory therapy
Patients were re-intubated if they showed signs of respiratory
distress due to an inability to maintain airway patency or
respiratory muscle fatigue including: sustained respiratory rate of
more than 40 breaths per minute accompanied by accessory
muscle use and paradoxical breathing patterns; oxygen
saturation of less than 90% for five minutes or partial pressure of
oxygen (pO2) of less than 60 mmHg on an arterial blood gas;
partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) of more than 60
mmHg or a pH of less than 7.3 on arterial blood gas (ABG);
loss of pharyngeal of laryngeal tone as noted by gagging or
marked sturdor or stridor.
A neurological ICU nurse assessed all patients after
extubation for signs of respiratory distress every hour for six hours. A
routine ABG was obtained 30 minutes after extubation. The
decision to initiate chest physical therapy before and/or after
extubation was performed at the discretion of the primary
team. The time and reason for any re-intubation was recorded.
Any patient participating in the study who was re-intubated
was followed but became ineligible for re-enrollment.
Nosocomial pneumonia was defined by traditional criteria as a
new or progressive pulmonary infiltrate detected on routine
chest radiographs or computed tomography with a
temperature higher than 38.5C, blood leucocyte count of more than
12 109/L, and when obtainable tracheal secretions,
bronchial washings or blood cultures were consistent with a likely
Routine clinical practice included a chest X-ray and ABG for
any signs of respiratory distress or blood cultures for an
unexplained fever. Fever was defined as an oral temperature higher
than 38.5C. Follow-up laboratory testing was performed at
the discretion of the attending physician. To assess for
selection bias the total number of chest images and sputum
samples were recorded from enrollment in both the early and
delayed extubation groups. Similarly, the total number of days
on mechanical ventilation and the number of days after
enrollment into the study was recorded for both early and delayed
The primary outcome measure was the functional status of the
patient at hospital discharge. The functional status and activity
limitations were measured in a blinded fashion by the
attending acute rehabilitation service at hospital discharge using the
Modified Rankin Scale (MRS)  and the Functional
Independence Measure (FIM) . Clinicians determining FIM
scores were certified in this procedure . Discharge
placement categorised as home, rehabilitation or skilled nursing
facility was also recorded. Secondary measured parameters
included the number of nosocomial pneumonias,
re-intubations, and the length of stay in the ICU and hospital.
Algorriitthhmmfofor reennrorlolmllmenetnatnadnrdanrdaonmdoismatiisoantion. Endotracheal intubated neurological or neurosurgical patients were routinely assessed during
morning and evening rounds for eligibility criteria. Consent was obtained from patients' surrogates in medically and neurologically stable patients without
anticipated neurological deterioration. Consented patients subsequently underwent a 30 minute T-piece trial and Airway Care Score (ACS)
assessment. If the patient failed either assessment, they were re-evaluated in 12 hours. Patients that passed both tests were randomised to early or delayed
extubation. Patients randomised to delayed extubation had their Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) reassessed at least every 12 hours. If the GCS
improved to more than 8 and they passed the above T-piece and airway reassessments, they were immediately extubated. If the patients
neurological status did not improve after several assessments a trial of extubation could still be considered at the discretion of the attending physician to avoid
the necessity of placing a tracheostomy.
Morbidity was assessed at hospital discharge by a blinded
physician from the department of rehabilitation. Patients were
discharged from the ICU at the discretion of the attending
physician after a standard prescribed set of discharge criteria was
met. The length of stay in the ICU included both time spent in
the ICU and the intermediate care area.
A physician not directly involved in the care of the patients
provided an analysis for the patients involved in this study after
every four patients enrolled using the block randomisation
protocol. Enrollment was discontinued if more than three patients
needed to be re-intubated or developed nosocomial
pneumonias in either the treatment or control group. After analysis of
our first four patients, it was discovered that one family
requested their family member to not be re-intubated in the
event of respiratory or neurological deterioration after
randomisation. The medical monitor subsequently required an
additional revision that all enrolled patients be eligible for
reintubation. The Mayo Institutional Review board approved the
above protocol and the subsequent revision. The above
protocol was also reviewed and approved by the Mayo Clinic
Intensive Care Unit Committee.
Results are reported as means, standard deviations (SD) and
ranges for continuous and ordinal measurements and test for
differences in treatment means using two-sided, two-sample
student's t-tests assuming unequal variances. We used
student's t-tests for these numeric measures because the
distributions were not highly skewed, the nonparametric
alternatives can suffer from a loss of power at small sample
sizes, and we believe the mean is an informative measure of
central tendency and an average value for these measures. In
sensitivity analyses, inferences were not found to be
dependent on the choice of test.
We report the number and percentage of categorical
measurements. In analysing treatment differences in a categorical
outcome such as re-intubation, we use the chi-squared test
without continuity correction when expected cell counts were
greater than one and Fisher's exact test in other case . All
analyses were performed using R version 2.5.1 statistical
software (R Development Core Team. R: A language and
environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for statistical
computing. Vienna, Austria: 2007 ).
Sixteen patients were randomised between August 2004 and
May 2006. Over this time period, 493 patients were screened.
Twenty-nine patients met eligibility criteria (5.8% of the
screened population). Four families refused randomisation.
Nine other patients met initial criteria for enrollment, but in the
time it took to reach the families to obtain consent (two to four
days), several patients had improved and were extubated, or
had worsened from a pulmonary stand point and were no
longer eligible. Seven patients were placed on low-dose
propofol (Diprivan Astra Zeneca, Pharmaceuticals Wilmington
Delaware, USA) for 24 to 48 hours for sedation. All patients
had propofol discontinued for at least six hours before
enrollment and randomisation. Two delayed extubation patients had
propofol reinitiated for less than 24 hours. Nine patients did
not receive sedation during their hospitalisation.
Individual patient data is presented in Table 2. Five women and
eleven men with an age range from 30 to 93 years were
enrolled. Neurological diseases included six head traumas,
three tumours, two intracerebral haemorrhages, two
subarachnoid haemorrhages and three ischaemic strokes. The GCS at
the time of enrollment for all patients ranged between 5 and 8.
ACS ranged between 2 and 6. Kappa scores for ACS
assessment were good (74) between physician and nurse and
excellent (86) between physician and respiratory therapist.
There were two possible protocol violations. One patient was
enrolled despite a persistent temperature of 38C orally. At the
time of enrollment, this patient had a non-cyclical temperature
curve, a negative infectious work up and a hypothalamic
tumour. It was agreed by the consultants caring for this patient
and the medical monitor that the temperature in this patient
was of central origin and did not represent an infectious
source. Another patient randomised to early extubation had
extubation delayed for four hours to obtain and review repeat
head imaging at the request of the primary service.
Patient characteristics for the two groups are presented in
Table 3. There were no significant differences between the
demographic variables of the two groups; however, the
average age of the early extubation group was 10 years older than
the delayed extubation group.
The total number of mechanical ventilation days was 59 for the
delayed extubation group and 30 days for the early extubation
group. The average number of days of mechanical ventilation
was 7.4 (range = 2 to 17) for the delayed extubation group
and 3.8 (range = one to six) for the early extubation group. The
average delay in extubation for the delayed extubation group
was 3.6 days (range = one to eight). No patient required a
tracheostomy. There were 76 chest images obtained in the
delayed extubation group and 64 in the early extubation group.
Eleven sputum samples were obtained from the delayed
extubation group and 10 from the early extubation group.
Patient outcome is presented in Table 4. One patient from the
early extubation group was re-intubated and three nosocomial
pneumonias were detected in the delayed extubation group.
There was one death in the early extubation group and two
deaths in the delayed extubation group. There were no
unexpected deaths. All deaths occurred after the families or
surrogates withdrew medical care due to a poor neurological
prognosis. There were no significant differences between
treatment groups in the other measured parameters.
Although in a larger clinical trial the statistical power would
depend on the final study design and analyses specified in the
protocol, here we provide sample size estimates to detect
differences as larger or larger than those we based on using
twosided, two-sample student's t-tests and a type I error rate of
0.05. The SDs observed in the combined patient group are
used for power calculations. The difference in mean MRS was
small (0.25) with little variability (SD = 0.5). Therefore, to
detect a treatment effect of this size with about 80% power
would require 64 patients in each treatment arm. For 90%
power, 86 patients would be required for each treatment arm.
The difference in means using the FIM as an endpoint was
larger (5.62) as was the SD (14.8 among all subjects). To
detect a treatment effect with about 80% power would require
110 patients in each treatment arm. For 90% power, 147
patients in each arm would be required.
The mean ICU length of stay was observed to be 3.4 days
shorter for the early extubation group, although the overall SD
was 6.8 days. To detect a difference of this size with 80% or
Initial Re-intubate Nosocomial
Individual patient data.
Name Age/Sex History
90% power would require sample sizes of an estimated 66 or
88 patients per arm, respectively.
The mean hospital length of stay was reduced by 3.5 days for
the early extubation group and the overall SD was 11.8. Due
to the greater variability, this end point would require sample
sizes of 180 or 240 to obtain 80% or 90% power,
Traditionally, patients with a GCS of 8 or less would have been
intubated because of concerns for airway protection. This
procedure arises from a retrospective analysis of the national
traumatic coma data bank suggesting that comatose patients not
endotracheal intubated had a higher rate of aspiration and
worse clinical outcomes . More recent data have similarly
supported early intubation in severely brain injured patients
The need for initial intubation, however, has been extrapolated
to argue that continued intubation is needed in the comatose
patient despite a stable neurological condition. In a
prospective randomised study, Namen and colleagues reported an
incremental increase in successful extubations in
neurosurgical patients with an increasing GCS. They found a 61%
extubation failure rate for patients with a GCS of 8 or less .
However, in a large prospective observational analysis, Coplin
and colleagues reported an increase in nosocomial
pneumonias, increased length of stay and worse outcomes in patients
who had extubation delayed over concerns of compromised
consciousness . Multiple calls for randomisation have
been challenged because of a concern that randomisation
may not be feasible secondary to ingrained suppositions as to
who can be safely extubated. (W. Coplin, personal
communication). The results of this trial argue strongly that
randomisation of severely brain injured patients to early and delayed
extubation is both technically feasible and safe to perform.
Number of patients
Number of women (%)
Glasgow coma score
Airway care score
Patient characteristics at enrollment
ICH = intracerebral haemorrhage; SAH = subarachnoid
haemorrhage; SD = standard deviation.
Patients in the neurological ICU may remain intubated for
treatment of their primary neurological illness including
sedation for control of intracranial hypertension and optimisation of
cerebral blood flow in the treatment of cerebral vasospasm
and ischaemic stroke. We were careful to delineate a
population of patients that were beyond the acute phase of brain
injury and were believed unlikely to deteriorate from secondary
neurological causes. Patients that were intubated for sedation,
therapeutic hyperventilation or were deemed to be at risk for
the development of cerebral vasospasm that would require the
acute management of cerebral perfusion pressure were
excluded until these risks were considered to no longer be
present. This was based on the clinical judgement of the
authors, but will need to be more objectively defined in a larger
study. This may include documentation of adequate cerebral
perfusion without vasopressor support, lack of a need for
osmotic treatment of intracranial hypertension and decreasing
transcranial Doppler ultrasound flow velocities in patients with
The requirement of a low modified ACS ensured that all
enrolled patients had minimal airway secretions. The presence
of a quantifiable spontaneous strong cough and minimal
respiratory secretions has been shown to have a strong correlation
with extubation success [23-26]. By requiring good control of
airway secretions for enrollment, we were able to isolate a
population of patients that remained intubated solely because
of their level of consciousness. We were thus able to address
a single question of whether a GCS of 8 or less should
We chose to use a modified ACS using cough to suctioning
rates as opposed to a quantifiable measure of cough flow
rates. We believe that this method was simple to use and
reproducible across ICU personnel. The good to excellent
correlations between users verified its utility but may require
training and more standardisation for a larger study.
The timing and placement of tracheostomies in this population
is controversial. Some authors have advocated early
placement of tracheostomies in patients with a decreased level of
consciousness [27-29]. Our methodology allowed us the
option to consider a trial of extubation in the delayed
extubation group before requiring placement of a tracheostomy. This
option to some degree reflects an institutional bias against
unnecessary tracheostomy placement and was required by
our ICU committee.
The average delay in extubation was 3.6 days in the delayed
extubation group. The ICU length of stay and hospital length of
stay was increased by 3.4 days in the delayed extubation
group suggesting that extubation delay was the primary
source of increased length of stay. Although a wide range of
variations in ICU length of stay, hospital length of stay and
extubation delay existed, review of our respiratory data did not
reveal an increase in suctioning frequency or respiratory care
for patients that were extubated early.
Similarly, we do not think that selection bias played a
significant role in the detection of nosocomial pneumonia given that
a similar number of sputum samples were evaluated and there
was only a slight increase in the number of chest images
obtained in the delayed extubation group.
One patient in the early extubation group required
re-intubation. The re-intubation was likely to be iatrogenic caused by
epistaxis after placement of a nasal airway. We therefore
believe that our limited results suggest early extubation is most
likely to be safe to perform in this population.
The limited number of patients in this study precluded
statistical analysis with adequate power to make any definitive
statements but did allow for power estimates for a larger study. We
decided to base these estimates on two functional measures
of neurological outcome. The MRS is the most reliable and
commonly used functional measure for long-term neurological
outcome. A relatively small sample size was required for a
larger study using the MRS due to the noted low variability in
this sample size. This may reflect the relative insensitivity of this
measure. The FIM is the most sensitive evaluation to detect a
small difference in outcome. A larger sample size was required
and may not be of functional significance.
We chose to follow patient outcome as the primary outcome
tion of this study, enrolled patients and aided in the drafting of
for this study. Although secondary outcomes could be used as
the manuscript. AWB performed the FIM, MRS and aided in
the primary outcome, with presumably smaller numbers
the drafting of the manuscript. WDF enrolled patients and
needed to test superiority, this would still leave the question of
aided in the drafting of the manuscript. VHL enrolled patients
whether the intervention affected the outcome. We therefore
and aided in the drafting of the manuscript. SAW developed
believe that there is an advantage to designing a non-inferiority
and performed the statistical analysis for the study, and aided
trial, which would assume non-inferiority for neurological
outin the drafting and revision of the manuscript. MTK
particicome but test superiority for secondary measures. For
exampated in the coordination and data acquisition of patients and
ple, a trial with less than 100 subjects per arm would have high
aided in the drafting of the manuscript. DRB participated in the
power to establish that early extubation did not negatively
coordination and data acquisition of patients and aided in the
impact MRS (assuming the largest acceptable difference in
drafting of the manuscript. FXW participated in the
coordinaMRS was 0.75 points and early extubation did not increase the
tion and data acquisition of patients and aided in the drafting
mean MRS by more than 0.50 points) and shortened ICU
of the manuscript. TKR participated in the coordination and
length of stay. Larger numbers, however, would be required if
data acquisition of patients and also aided in the drafting of the
overall hospital length of stay was used as the secondary
endmanuscript. RDH participated in the design and coordination
point for an equivalence trial. This trial would have obvious
of the study.
The low percentage of screened patients who were eligible for
enrollment reflects our strict inclusion criteria, and the
demographics of our unit with a high number of postoperative
patients and relatively few severe head traumas. We did,
however, include a broad spectrum of neurological illnesses. A
larger study will require multiple sites with variable patient
In conclusion, randomisation of severely brain injured patients
to early or delayed extubation did not identify any safety
concerns and is feasible. The results of a larger multicentre trial
will have significant implications for the ICU care of brain
Randomisation of brain injured patients to early
extubation appears to be safe and feasible.
Extubation decisions can potentially be made based on
randomised trials and not on observational studies
Larger randomisation studies are needed to further
delineated extubation criteria in this population.
This research was supported by the Mayo Clinic Department
of Neurology discretionary funds. The authors declare they
have no competing interests.
EMM conceived of the study, participated in its design and
coordination, enrolled patients, and drafted and rewrote the
manuscript. AAR participated in the design and coordination
of the study, enrolled patients and aided in the drafting of the
manuscript. EFMW participated in the design and
The authors would like to thank Bekele Affessa, MD, for serving as the
medical monitor and Martha Huse, RN, for data acquisition. Written
consent for publication was obtained from the patients or their relatives. Trial
1. Gujjar AR , Deibert E , Manno EM , Duff S , Diringer MN : Mechanical ventilation for ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage: indications , timing, and outcome. Neurology 1995 , 45 : 640 - 644 .
2. Mayer SA , Copeland D , Bernardini GL , Boden-Albala B , Lennihan L , Kossoff S , Sacco RL : Cost and outcome of mechanically ventilation for life-threatening stroke . Stroke 2000 , 31 : 2346 - 2353 .
3. Adekoya N , Thurman DJ , White DD , Webb KW : Surveillance for traumatic brain injury deaths- -United States , 1989 - 1998 . MMWR Surveill Summ 2002 , 51 : 1 - 14 .
4. Kraus JF , McArthur DL : Epidemiology of brain injury . In Neurology and Trauma 2nd edition. Edited by: Evans RW. New York Oxford University Press ; 2006 : 3 - 18 .
5. Jagger J , Levine JI , Jane JA , Rimel RW : Epidemiologic features of head injury in a predominantly rural population . J Trauma 1984 , 24 : 40 - 44 .
6. Finkelstein FA , Corso PS , Miller TR : Incidence and Economic Burden of Injuries in the United States . New York : Oxford University Press ; 2006 .
7. Holland MC , Mackersie RC , Morabito D , Campbell AR , Kivett VA , Patel R , Erickson VR , Pittet J-F : The development of acute lung injury is associated with worse neurologic outcome in patients with severe traumatic brain injury . J Trauma 2003 , 55 : 106 - 111 .
8. Rincon-Ferrari MD , Flores-Cordero JM , Leal-Noval SR , MurilloCabezas F , Cayuelas A , Munoz-Sanchez MA , Sanchez-Olmedo JI : Impact of ventilator-associated pneumonia in patients with severe head injury . J Trauma 2004 , 57 : 1234 - 1240 .
9. Marik PE , Varon J , Trask T : Management of head trauma . Chest 2002 , 122 : 699 - 711 .
10. Andrews BT : The intensive care management of patients with head injury . In Neurosurgical Intensive Care Edited by: Andrews BT. New York : McGraw-Hill Inc; ; 1993 : 57 - 112 .
11. Coplin WM , Pierson DJ , Cooley KD , Newell DW , Rubenfeld GD : Implications of extubation delay in brain injured patients meeting standard weaning criteria . Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2000 , 161 : 1530 - 1536 .
12. Altman DG , Dore CJ : Randomization and baseline comparisons in clinical trials . Lancet 1990 , 335 : 149 - 153 .
13. Teasdale G , Jennett B : Assessment of coma and impaired consciousness . A practical scale. Lancet 1974 , 2 : 81 - 84 .
14. Tobin MJ , Grenvik A : Nosocomial lung infection and its diagnosis . Crit Care Med 1984 , 12 : 191 - 199 .
15. Fagon JY , Chastre J , Hance AJ , Montravers P , Novara A , Gibert C : Nosocomial pneumonia in ventilated patients: a cohort study evaluating attributable mortality and hospital stay . Am J Med 1993 , 94 : 281 - 288 .
16. Bonita R , Beaglehole R : Modification of Rankin scale: recovery of motor function after stroke . Stroke 1988 , 19 : 1497 - 1500 .
17. The Center for Outcome Measurement in Brain Injury [http:// www.tbims.org/combi/FIM]
18. Campbell I : Chi-squared and Fisher -Irwin tests of two-by-two tables with small sample recommendations . Stat Med 2007 , 26 : 3661 - 3675 .
19. R Development Core Team : A language and environment for statistical computing . Vienna, Austria 2007 [http://www.Rproject.org].
20. Marshall LF , Becker DP , Bowers SA , Cayard C , Eisenberg H , Gross CR , Grossman RG , Jane JA , Kunitz SC , Tabaddor K , Warren J : The National Traumatic Coma Data Bank . Part 1: Design, purpose, goals, and results. J Neurosurg 1983 , 59 : 276 - 284 .
21. Winchell RJ , Hoyt DB : Endotracheal intubation in the field improves survival in patients with severe head injury . Arch Surgery 1997 , 132 : 592 - 597 .
22. Namen AM , Ely EW , Tatter SB , Case LD , Lucia MA , Kelly DL , Bowton DL , Haponik EF : Predictors of successful extubation in neurosurgical patients . Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2001 , 163 : 658 - 664 .
23. Khamiees M , Raju P , DeGiirolamo A , Amoateng-Adjepong Y , Manthous CA : Predictors of extubation outcome in patients who have successfully completed a spontaneous breathing trial . Chest 2001 , 120 : 1262 - 1270 .
24. Smina M , Salm A , Khamiees M , Gada P , Amoateng-Adjepong Y , Manthous CA : Chest 2003 , 124 : 262 - 268 .
25. Salam A , Tilluckdharry L , Amoateng-Adjepong Y , Manthous CA : Neurologic status, cough, secretions, and extubation outcomes . Intensive Care Med 2004 , 30 : 1334 - 1339 .
26. Ferguson ND , Adhikari NKJ , Scales DC , Fowler RA , Chapman M , Baker AJ , Cook DJ , Meade MO , the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group: Neurological ICU extubation strategy and reintubation outcomes (Neuro) pilot study . Intensive Care Med 2006 , 32 : S115 .
27. Ahmed N , Kuo YH : Early versus late tracheostomy in patients with severe traumatic head injury . Surgical Infections 2007 , 8 : 343 - 348 .
28. Griffiths J , Barber VS , Morgan L, Young JD : Systematic review and metaanalysis of studies of the timing of tracheostomy in adult patients undergoing artificial ventilation . BMJ 2005 , 330 : 1243 - 1247 .
29. Mascia L , Cornu E , Terragni PP , Stather D , Ferguson ND : Pro/con clinical debate: Tracheostomy is ideal for withdrawal of mechanical ventilation in severe neurological impairment . Crit Care 2004 , 8 : 327 - 330 .