Background and objective: The study was designed to identify those factors associated with early tracheal extubation following cardiac surgery. Previous studies have tended to concentrate on surgery for coronary artery bypass or on other selected cohorts.
Methods: Sequential cohort analysis of 296 unselected adult cardiac surgery patients was performed over 3 months.
Results: In total, 39% of all patients were extubated within 6 h, 89% within 24 h and 95% within 48 h. Delayed extubation (>6 h after surgery) appeared unrelated to age, gender, body mass index, a previous pattern of angina or myocardial infarction, diabetes, preoperative atrial fibrillation, and preoperative cardiovascular assessment, as well as other factors. Delayed tracheal extubation was associated with poor left ventricular, renal and pulmonary function, a high Euroscore, as well as the type, duration and urgency of surgery. Early extubation (<6 h) was not associated with a reduced length of stay in either the intensive care unit or in hospital compared with patients who were extubated between 6 and 24 h. In these groups, it is presumed that organizational and not clinical factors appear to be responsible for a delay in discharge from intensive care. Patients who were extubated after 24 h had a longer duration of hospital stay and a greater incidence of postoperative complications. Postoperative complications were not adversely affected by early tracheal extubation.
Conclusions: In an unselected sequential cohort, both patient- and surgery-specific factors may be influential in determining the duration of postoperative ventilation of the lungs following cardiac surgery. In view of the changing nature of the surgical population, regular re-evaluation is useful in reassessing performance.