Remembrance of weaning past: the seminal papers

Intensive Care Med. 2006 Oct;32(10):1485-93. doi: 10.1007/s00134-006-0338-8. Epub 2006 Aug 8.


The approach to ventilator weaning has changed considerably over the past 30 years. Change has resulted from research in three areas: pathophysiology, weaning-predictor testing, and weaning techniques. Physiology research illuminated the mechanisms of weaning failure. It also uncovered markers of weaning success. Through more reliable prediction, patients whose weaning would have been tedious in the 1970s are now weaned more rapidly. The weaning story offers several lessons in metascience: importance of creativity, the asking of heretical questions, serendipity, mental-set psychology, cross-fertilization, and the hazards of precocity. Weaning research also illustrates how Kuhnian normal (me-too) science dominates any field. Making the next quantum leap in weaning will depend on spending less time on normal science and more on the raising (and testing) of maverick ideas.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Publications / history*
  • Ventilator Weaning / history*