© 2017, The Author(s). Background: Continuous aspiration of subglottic secretions is effective in preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia, but it involves a risk of mucosal damage. The main objective of our study was to determine the incidence of airway complications related to continuous aspiration of subglottic secretions. Methods: In consecutive adult patients with continuous aspiration of subglottic secretions, we prospectively recorded clinical airway complications during the period after extubation. A multidetector computed tomography of the neck was performed during the period of 5 days following extubation to classify subglottic and tracheal lesions as mucosal thickening, cartilage thickening or deep ulceration. Results: In the 86 patients included in the study, 6 (6.9%) had transient dyspnea, 7 (8.1%) had upper airway obstruction and 18 (20.9%) had dysphonia at extubation. Univariate analysis identified more attempts required for intubation (2.3 ± 1.1 vs. 1.2 ± 0.5; p = 0.001), difficult intubation (71.4 vs. 10.1%, p = 0.001) and Cormack score III–IV (71.4 vs. 8.8%; p < 0.001) as risk factors for having an upper airway obstruction at extubation. The incidence of failed extubation among patients after planned extubation was 18.9% and 11 patients (12.7%) required tracheostomy. A multidetector computed tomography was performed in 37 patients following extubation, and injuries were observed in 9 patients (24.3%) and classified as tracheal injuries in 2 patients (1 cartilage thickening and 1 mild stenosis with cartilage thickening) and as subglottic mucosal thickenings in 7 patients. Conclusions: The incidence of upper airway obstruction after extubation in patients with continuous aspiration of subglottic secretions was 8.1%, and the injuries observed by computed tomography were not severe and located mostly in subglottic space.
- Continuous aspiration of subglottic secretions
- Mechanical ventilation
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia