Rationale: Despite its ability to reduce overall ventilation time, protocol-guided weaning from mechanical ventilation is not routinely used in daily clinical practice. Clinical implementation of weaning protocols could be facilitated by integration of knowledge-based, closed-loop controlled protocols into respirators.
Objectives: To determine whether automated weaning decreases overall ventilation time compared with weaning based on a standardized written protocol in an unselected surgical patient population.
Methods: In this prospective controlled trial patients ventilated for longer than 9 hours were randomly allocated to receive either weaning with automatic control of pressure support ventilation (automated-weaning group) or weaning based on a standardized written protocol (control group) using the same ventilation mode. The primary end point of the study was overall ventilation time.
Measurements and main results: Overall ventilation time (median [25th and 75th percentile]) did not significantly differ between the automated-weaning (31 [19-101] h; n = 150) and control groups (39 [20-118] h; n = 150; P = 0.178). Patients who underwent cardiac surgery (n = 132) exhibited significantly shorter overall ventilation times in the automated-weaning (24 [18-57] h) than in the control group (35 [20-93] h; P = 0.035). The automated-weaning group exhibited shorter ventilation times until the first spontaneous breathing trial (1 [0-15] vs. 9 [1-51] h; P = 0.001) and a trend toward fewer tracheostomies (17 vs. 28; P = 0.075).
Conclusions: Overall ventilation times did not significantly differ between weaning using automatic control of pressure support ventilation and weaning based on a standardized written protocol. Patients after cardiac surgery may benefit from automated weaning. Implementation of additional control variables besides the level of pressure support may further improve automated-weaning systems. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT 00445289).
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00445289.