The use of a remifentanil infusion and elective tracheostomy to avoid ventilation in a patient with tetanus (2014)

Type of publication:
Journal article

*Redshaw C., *Slater R.

Journal of the Intensive Care Society, April 2014, vol./is. 15/2(161-163), 1751-1437

Tetanus is very rare in developed countries but the mortality is still high in the elderly population despite access to intensive care medicine. Death can frequently occur from secondary complications due to the need to sedate, paralyse and ventilate patients in an effort to control spasms. We describe the case of a 77-year-old man with tetanus in whom we successfully controlled tetanic spasms with a remifentanil infusion where conventional treatment failed, thus preventing the need for mechanical ventilation. We also describe the use of an elective percutaneous tracheostomy which was performed for airway protection. This prevented him from developing pneumonia from aspirating the excess secretions caused by the autonomic features of tetanus.