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Tex Heart Inst J. 2006;33(2):122-9.

Course of weaning from prolonged mechanical ventilation after cardiac surgery.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, USA.


In order to determine the temporal pattern of weaning from mechanical ventilation for patients undergoing prolonged mechanical ventilation after cardiac surgery, we performed a retrospective review of 21 patients' weaning courses at our long-term acute care hospital. Using multiple regression analysis of an estimate of individual patients' percentage of mechanical ventilator support per day (%MVSD), we determined that 14 of 21 patients (67%) showed a statistically significant quadratic or cubic relationship between time and % MVSD. These patients showed little or no improvement in their ventilator dependence until a point in time when, abruptly, they began to make rapid progress (a "wean turning point"), after which they progressed to discontinuation of mechanical ventilation in a relatively short period of time. The other 7 patients appeared to have a similar weaning pattern, although the data were not statistically significant. Most patients in the study group weaned from the ventilator through a specific temporal pattern that is newly described herein. Data analysis suggested that the mechanism for the development of a wean turning point was improvement of pulmonary mechanics rather than improvement in gas exchange or respiratory load. Although these observations need to be confirmed by a prospective trial, they may have implications for weaning cardiac surgery patients from prolonged mechanical ventilation, and possibly for weaning a broader group of patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation.

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