For patients with inhalation injury, the indications for early intubation are diverse. The purpose of this study was to identify the most reliable symptoms, physical findings, and medical examinations with which to determine the indications for early intubation in patients with inhalation injury.
We retrospectively collected patient data from medical records. Collected data included age, sex, burn size, symptoms, physical findings, carboxyhemoglobin levels (COHb), and bronchial wall thickness (BWT) determined from chest computed tomography images. We analyzed the relationships between these findings and the early intubation. We performed fiberoptic bronchoscopy in all patients, and analyzed the relationships between bronchoscopic severity and other findings.
Of the 205 patients, 80 patients were diagnosed as having inhalation injury, and 34 patients were intubated. Burn size, facial burns, neck burns, use of accessory respiratory muscles, and COHb seemed to be related with intubation, whereas singed nasal hair was not. If the patients suffered ≥27% total body surface area burn and BWT ≥3.5 mm, the positive predictive value for early intubation was 1.00. If the patients suffered smaller cutaneous burn without neck burn, and their COHb <4.0%, the negative predictive value for early intubation was 0.97. Fiberoptic bronchoscopy findings from above the glottis were mainly related with patients’ symptoms. Findings from below the glottis were mainly related with BWT and COHb.
Patients’ symptoms, especially use of accessory respiratory muscles, are reliable, and BWT and COHb are also useful tools, for determining the indication for early intubation.
Patients’ symptoms, especially use of accessory respiratory muscles, are crucial indicators for early intubation in patients with inhalation injury. Bronchial wall thickness and carboxyhemoglobin levels are also useful tools for determining the indication for early intubation.