Critically injured patients who are agitated and delirious on arrival do not allow optimal preoxygenation in the emergency area. We investigated whether the administration of intravenous (IV) ketamine 3 minutes before administration of a muscle relaxant is associated with better oxygen saturation levels while intubating these patients.
Two hundred critically injured patients who required definitive airway management on arrival were recruited. The subjects were randomized as delayed sequence intubation (group DSI) or rapid sequence intubation (group RSI). In group DSI, patients received a dissociative dose of ketamine followed by 3 minutes of preoxygenation and paralysis using IV succinylcholine for intubation. In group RSI, a 3-minute preoxygenation was performed before induction and paralysis using the same drugs, as described conventionally. The primary outcome was incidence of peri-intubation hypoxia. Secondary outcomes were first-attempt success rate, use of adjuncts, airway injuries, and hemodynamic parameters.
Peri-intubation hypoxia was significantly lower in group DSI (8 [8%]) compared to group RSI (35 [35%]; P = .001). First-attempt success rate was higher in group DSI (83% vs 69%; P = .02). A significant improvement in mean oxygen saturation levels from baseline values was seen in group DSI only. There was no incidence of hemodynamic instability. There was no statistically significant difference in airway-related adverse events.
DSI appears promising in critically injured trauma patients who do not allow adequate preoxygenation due to agitation and delirium and require definitive airway on arrival.