Treatment of multiple rib fractures. Randomized controlled trial comparing ventilatory with nonventilatory management

Bolliger C.T. ; Van Eeden S.F. (1990)


We studied the treatment of multiple rib fractures in NIC, comparing ventilatory with nonventilatory methods in 69 patients who were randomly allocated to one of the following two treatments: (1) a CPAP mask combined with regional analgesia (n = 36); or (2) endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation with PEEP (n = 33). Clinical outcome was as follows: mean duration of treatment, 4.5 ± 2.3 days for the group with CPAP and 7.3 ± 3.7 days for the intubated group (p = 0.0003); mean number of days spent in intensive care, 5.3 ± 2.9 days and 9.5 ± 4.4 days, respectively (p = < 0.0001); mean period of hospitalization, 8.4 ± 7.1 days and 14.6 ± 8.6 days, respectively (p = 0.0019); and patients developing complications: 28 percent (10/36) and 73 percent (24/33), respectively. Infections caused the difference in complications, primarily pneumonias, which occurred in 14 percent (5/36) of the group with CPAP but in 48 percent (16/33) of the intubated group. We conclude that treatment with a CPAP mask combined with regional analgesia can shorten and simplify treatment in these patients, mainly through a decreased infection rate, when compared with intubation and mechanical ventilation, and we recommend this treatment in patients similar to our sample.

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