Nasal intubation for trauma patients and increased in-hospital mortality

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Purpose: Data regarding harm from nasal intubation in trauma patients have been conflicting. This study aims to elucidate whether nasal intubation is associated with increased in-hospital mortality compared with oral intubation. Methods: A retrospective cohort study on a nationwide trauma registry of 2004–2019 was conducted. Adult trauma patients who underwent nasal or oral intubation during initial resuscitation were selected. In-hospital mortality and lung complications were compared between nasal and oral intubations. A generalized estimating equation model accounting for within-institution clustering was adopted. Patient demographics, comorbidities, mechanism, injury severity, and vital signs on hospital arrival were adjusted. Subgroup analyses were conducted based on age, Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS] for the head and face, and vital signs on arrival. Results: Among 29,271 patients eligible for the study, 667 were intubated nasally. In-hospital mortality was higher in nasal intubation compared with oral intubation (OR, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.01–1.64]). There were more noninfectious pulmonary complications in nasal intubation (OR, 1.48 [1.14–1.94]). The harms of nasal intubation were observed only in the elderly (age ≥ 75), patients with severe head injury (AIS in the head ≥ 4), and normotensive patients (systolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mmHg). Conversely, mortality was comparable regardless of the route of intubation in patients with complicated facial injury (AIS in the face ≥ 3). Conclusion: Nasal intubation was associated with increased in-hospital mortality, particularly in older patients and severe head injury, but not severe facial injury. The route of intubation should be judiciously decided during trauma resuscitation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Intubation
  • Naso-tracheal
  • Orotracheal
  • Resuscitation
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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