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Chest. 2010 Apr;137(4):777-82. doi: 10.1378/chest.07-2808. Epub 2010 Jan 22.

Involuntary cough strength and extubation outcomes for patients in an ICU.

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Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, National Defense Medical Center, No 161, Sec. 6, Mincyuan E Rd, Neihu District, Taipei City 114, Taiwan, ROC.



Removing the artificial airway is the last step in the mechanical ventilation withdrawal process. In order to assess cough effectiveness, a critical component of this process, we evaluated the involuntary cough peak flow (CPFi) to predict the extubation outcome for patients weaned from mechanical ventilation in ICUs.


One hundred fifty patients were weaned from ventilators, passed a spontaneous breathing trial (SBT), and were judged by their physician to be ready for extubation in the Tri-Service General Hospital ICUs from February 2003 to July 2003. CPFi was induced by 2 mL of normal saline solution at the end of inspiration and measured using a hand-held respiratory mechanics monitor. All patients were then extubated.


Of 150 enrolled patients for this study, 118 (78.7%) had successful extubation and 32 (21.3%) failed. In the univariate analysis, there were higher Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II scores (16.0 vs 18.5, P = .018), less negative maximum inspiratory pressure (-45.0 vs -39.0, P = .010), lower cough peak flows (CPFs) (74.0 vs 42.0 L/min, P < .001), longer postextubation hospital stays (15.0 vs 31.5 days, P < .001), and longer postextubation ICU stays (1.0 vs 9.5 days, P < .001) in the extubation failures compared with the extubation successes. In the multivariate analysis, we found that a higher APACHE II score and a lower CPF were related to increasing risk of extubation failure (odds ratio [OR] = 1.13; 95% CI, 1.03-1.25; and OR = 0.95; 95% CI, 0.93-0.98, respectively). The receiver operator characteristic curve cutoff point for CPF was 58.5 L/min, with a sensitivity of 78.8% and specificity of 78.1%.


CPFi as an indication of cough reflex has the potential to predict successful extubation in patients who pass an SBT.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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