Impact of obesity in mechanically ventilated patients: a prospective study

Intensive Care Med. 2008 Nov;34(11):1991-8. doi: 10.1007/s00134-008-1245-y. Epub 2008 Aug 1.


Objective: To analyze the influence of severe obesity on mortality and morbidity in mechanically ventilated intensive care unit (ICU) patients.

Design: Prospective, multi-center exposed/unexposed matched epidemiologic study.

Setting: Hospital setting.

Patients: Severely obese patients (body mass index (BMI) >or= 35 kg/m(2)), mechanically ventilated for at least 2 days were matched with unexposed nonobese patients (BMI < 30 kg/m(2)) for center, gender, age (+/-5 years), and the simplified acute physiology (SAPS) II score (+/-5 points). We recorded tracheal intubation, catheter placement, nosocomial infections, development of pressure ulcers, ICU and hospital outcome.

Results: Eighty-two severely obese patients (mean BMI, 42 +/- 6 kg/m(2)) were compared to 124 nonobese patients (mean BMI, 24 +/- 4 kg/m(2)). The ICU course was similar in both the groups, except for the difficulties during tracheal intubation (15 vs. 6%) and post-extubation stridor (15% vs. 3%), which were significantly more frequent in obese patients (P < 0.05). The ICU mortality rate did not differ between obese and nonobese patients (24 and 25%, respectively); nor did the risk-adjusted hospital mortality rate (0.76, 95% confidence interval 0.41-1.16 in obese patients versus 0.82, 95% confidence interval 0.54-1.13 in nonobese patients). Conditional logistic regression confirmed that mortality was not associated with obesity.

Conclusion: The only difference in morbidity of obese patients who were mechanically ventilated was increased difficulty with tracheal intubation and a higher frequency of post-extubation stridor. Obesity was not associated either with increased ICU mortality or with hospital mortality.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Critical Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / mortality
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric