Outcome of survivors of acute stroke who require prolonged ventilatory assistance and tracheostomy

Alejandro A. Rabinstein, Eelco F.M. Wijdicks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Mechanical ventilation after stroke is associated with high mortality. However, little is known about survivors who require prolonged ventilatory assistance and tracheostomy. Our goal was to assess the rate of pulmonary complication, effect of early tracheostomy and prognosis of patients with stroke requiring prolonged ventilatory support. Methods: Retrospective review of 97 patients with stroke who required ventilatory assistance and tracheostomy admitted to a single teaching hospital between 1976 and 2000. Outcome was defined using the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS). Results: Poor outcome (GOS 1-3) occurred in 74% of patients at 1 year and it was associated with older age (p = 0.03), prior history of brain damage (p = 0.02), and neurological worsening after intubation (p ! 0.01). However, long-term functional recovery (GOS 4-5) was possible and more likely after strokes involving the posterior circulation (p = 0.03). Pulmonary complications were prevalent and more frequent before tracheostomy (68 vs. 20% after tracheostomy) but did not determine functional outcome. Mean duration of mechanical ventilation was 11 B 19 days and did not significantly differ between outcome groups. Early tracheostomy correlated with shorter ICU and hospital stays (p ! 0.01 in both cases). Conclusions: Surviving patients with stroke who require prolonged ventilatory assistance and tracheostomy can have a better outcome than previously reported. Aggressive care is justified in patients who do not continue to deteriorate neurologically. Pulmonary complications are frequent but treatable. Early tracheostomy can shorten ICU and hospital stays and reduce costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 31 2004


  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Outcome
  • Stroke
  • Tracheostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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