Objective: To evaluate the utility of serial measurements of plasma N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) to detect acute cardiac dysfunction during weaning failure in difficult to wean patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Design: Prospective observational cohort study.
Setting: A 14-bed general intensive care unit in a university hospital.
Patients: Nineteen patients mechanically ventilated for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation who were difficult to wean.
Measurements and main results: Cardiac and hemodynamic variables, arterial and central venous blood gas, breathing pattern, respiratory mechanics, indexes of oxygen cost of breathing, and plasma levels of NT-proBNP were measured and analyzed immediately before (baseline) and at the end of a spontaneous breathing trial. Eight of 19 patients (42%) were identified with acute cardiac dysfunction at the end of the weaning trial. Baseline NT-proBNP levels were significantly higher (median 5000, interquartile range 4218 pg/mL) in these patients than in patients without evidence of acute cardiac dysfunction (median 1705, interquartile range 3491 pg/mL). Plasma levels of NT-proBNP increased significantly at the end of the spontaneous breathing trial only in patients with acute cardiac dysfunction (median 12,733, interquartile range 16,456 pg/mL, p < .05). The elevation in NT-proBNP at the end of the weaning trial had a good diagnostic performance in detecting acute cardiac dysfunction, as estimated by area under the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis (area under the curve 0.909, se 0.077, 95% confidence interval 0.69-0.98; p < .0001, cutoff = 184.7 pg/mL).
Conclusions: Serial measurements of NT-proBNP plasma levels provided a noninvasive manner to detect acute cardiac dysfunction during an unsuccessful weaning trial in difficult to wean patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The utility of this test as a complement of the standard clinical monitoring of the weaning trial deserves further investigation.