Daily practice of mechanical ventilation in Italian pediatric intensive care units: a prospective survey

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2011 Mar;12(2):141-6. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0b013e3181dbaeb3.


Objectives: To assess how children requiring endotracheal intubation are mechanically ventilated in Italian pediatric intensive care units (PICUs).

Design: A prospective, national, observational, multicenter, 6-month study.

Setting: Eighteen medical-surgical PICUs.

Patients: A total of 1943 consecutive children, aged 0-16 yrs, admitted between November 1, 2006 and April 30, 2007.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Data on cause of respiratory failure, length of mechanical ventilation (MV), mode of ventilation, use of specific interventions were recorded for all children requiring endotracheal intubation for >24 hrs. Children were stratified for age, type of patient, and cause of respiratory failure. A total of 956 (49.2%) patients required MV via an endotracheal tube; 673 (34.6%) were ventilated for >24 hrs. The median length of MV was 4.5 days for all patients. If postoperative patients were excluded, the median time was 5 days. Bronchiolitis (6.7%), pneumonia (6.7%), and upper airway obstruction (5.3%) were the most frequent causes of acute respiratory failure, and altered mental status (9.2%) was the most frequent reason for MV. The overall mortality was 6.7% with highest rates for heart disease (nonoperative), sepsis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (26.1%, 22.2%, and 16.7% respectively). Length of stay, associated chronic disease, severity score on admission, and PICU mortality were significantly higher in children who received MV (p < .05) than in children who did not. Controlled MV and pressure support ventilation + synchronized intermittent mandatory ventilation were the most frequently used modes of ventilatory assistance during PICU stay.

Conclusions: Mechanical ventilation is frequently used in Italian PICUs with almost one child of two requiring endotracheal intubation. Children treated with MV represent a more severe category of patients than children who are breathing spontaneously. Describing the standard care and how MV is performed in children can be useful for future clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy