Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Incidence of acute respiratory distress syndrome and associated mortality in a polytrauma population
  1. Karlijn J P van Wessem,
  2. Luke P H Leenen
  1. Department of Trauma Surgery, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Karlijn J P van Wessem, Department of Trauma Surgery, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht 3584 CX, The Netherlands; kwessem{at}


Background The incidence of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has decreased in the last decade by improvement in trauma and critical care. However, it still remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality. This study investigated the current incidence and mortality of ARDS in polytrauma patients.

Methods A 4.5-year prospective study included consecutive trauma patients admitted to a level 1 trauma center intensive care unit (ICU). Isolated head injuries, drowning, asphyxiation, burns, and deaths <48 hours were excluded. Demographics, Injury Severity Score (ISS), physiologic parameters, resuscitation parameters, Denver Multiple Organ Failure scores, and ARDS data according to Berlin criteria were prospectively collected. Data are presented as median (IQR), and p<0.05 was considered significant.

Results 241 patients were included. The median age was 45 (27–59) years, 178 (74%) were male, the ISS was 29 (22–36), and 232 (96%) patients had blunt injuries. Thirty-one patients (13%) died. Fifteen patients (6%) developed ARDS. The median time to ARDS onset was 3 (2–5) days after injury. The median duration of ARDS was 2.5 (1–3.5) days. All patients with ARDS were male compared with 61% of non-ARDS patients (p=0.003). Patients who developed ARDS had higher ISS (30 vs. 25, p=0.01), lower Partial Pressure of Oxygen in arterial blood (PaO2) both in the emergency department and ICU, and higher Partial Pressure of Carbon Dioxide in arterial blood (PaCo2) in the ICU. Patients with ARDS needed more crystalloids <24 hours (8.7 vs. 6.8 L, p=0.03), received more fresh frozen plasma <24 hours (3 vs. 0 U, p=0.04), and more platelet <8 hours and <24 hours. Further, they stayed longer on the ventilator (11 vs. 2 days, p<0.001), longer in the ICU (12 vs. 3 days, p<0.001), and in the hospital (33 vs. 15 days, p=0.004). Patients with ARDS developed more often multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (40% vs. 3%, p<0.001) and died more often (20% vs. 3%, p=0.01). Only one patient with ARDS (7%) died of ARDS.

Discussion In this polytrauma population mortality was predominantly caused by brain injury. The incidence of ARDS was low; its presentation was only early onset, during a short time period, and accompanied by low mortality.

Level of evidence Level III.

  • ARDS
  • mortality
  • polytrauma

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Presented at This research was presented at the World Trauma Congress in San Diego on September 28, 2018.

  • Contributors KJPvW and LPHL have contributed to the conception and design of the study. KJPvW has prospectively collected data. KJPvW and LPHL have done the analysis and interpretation of data. KJPvW has drafted the article. LPHL has revised it critically for important intellectual content. LPHL has given final approval of the version to be submitted.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval The ethics committee of University Medical Center Utrecht approved this prospective observational study (reference number WAG/mb/16/026664).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data set generated and analyzed during the current study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.