Background High-frequency oscillatory ventilation is an alternative ventilation mode that improves oxygenation in trauma patients in whom conventional ventilation strategies have been unsuccessful.

Objective To evaluate the effect of high-frequency oscillatory ventilation on oxygenation, survival, and parameters predictive of survival in trauma patients.

Methods A retrospective case series of 24 adult patients admitted to the trauma intensive care unit at a level I trauma center between November 2001 and July 2005 and treated with high-frequency oscillatory ventilation. Survivors and nonsurvivors were compared for mechanism and severity of injury, oxygenation parameters related to high-frequency oscillatory ventilation, and hospital course.

Results Of the 8577 patients admitted during the study period, acute respiratory distress syndrome developed in 103 (1%). Of those 103 patients, 24 (23%) were treated with high-frequency oscillatory ventilation. Most of the patients treated with high-frequency oscillatory ventilation had sustained blunt trauma (79%). Oxygenation parameters improved significantly with high-frequency oscillatory ventilation in all patients, regardless of survival. Of the 24 patients treated with this ventilation mode, 15 (62%) survived. Survival did not correlate with improved oxygenation parameters but with the number of failed organ systems and injury severity.

Conclusion Although high-frequency oscillatory ventilation improves oxygenation, severity of traumatic injury and organ failure, not respiratory parameters, are predictors of survival. High-frequency oscillatory ventilation should be considered for pulmonary rescue of severely injured patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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