Is Nasotracheal Intubation Safe in Facial Trauma Patients?

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In the prehospital setting, oral intubation is preferred in facial trauma patients due to the potential for further injury during nasotracheal intubation. This study compared the complications of nasal vs. oral vs. nasal + oral intubations performed by first responder crews in facial trauma patients. Our objective was to assess patient outcomes and complications to determine the risk of nasal intubation in facial trauma patients in the prehospital setting.


Patients with facial trauma between 2008 and 13 were abstracted from the Miami Valley Hospital trauma registry: 50 were nasal only (n), 27 nasal + oral (no), and 135 oral only (o) intubation. Analysis of variance with the post-hoc Least Significance Difference Test and the chi square test were used in the analysis.


The oral group was older [41.1 ± 17.6 (o) vs. 36.2 ± 14.1 (n) vs. 33.0 ± 15.7 (no), p = 0.032] and had a higher facial abbreviated injury severity (AIS) mean score (1.8 ± 0.6 vs. 1.3 ± 0.5 vs. 1.5 ± 0.5, p < 0.001). The three groups did not differ in mortality (n = 20% vs. o = 18% vs. no = 30%, p = 0.37). The n + o group was intubated longer (p < 0.001) and had longer ICU and hospital lengths of stay (p = 0.015 and p = 0.023). The three groups did not differ on the composite of any pulmonary complication – i.e., any one of sinusitis, pneumonia, atelectasis, and respiratory failure - 44% (no) vs. 24% (o) vs. 30% (n), p = 0.10). However, nasal + oral patients were more likely to have one or more of the eight complication studied [63% (no) vs. 28% (o) vs. 34% (n), p = 0.002], and have a longer ICU and HLOS.


Prehospital nasal intubation is a viable short-term alternative to oral intubation in patients with facial trauma and warrants further research.



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