Thirty years of home mechanical ventilation in children: escalating need for pediatric intensive care beds

Intensive Care Med. 2012 May;38(5):847-52. doi: 10.1007/s00134-012-2545-9. Epub 2012 Apr 5.


Purpose: To describe trends in pediatric home mechanical ventilation (HMV) and their impact on the use of pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) beds.

Methods: Review of all children who had started HMV in a single center for HMV.

Results: Between 1979 and 2009, HMV was started in 197 patients [100 (51%) with invasive and 97 with noninvasive ventilation], with a median age of 14.7 (range 0.5-17.9) years. Most patients (77%) were males with a neuromuscular disorder (66%). The number of children receiving HMV increased from 8 in the 1979-1988 period to 122 in the 1999-2008 period. This increase occurred foremost in patients aged 0-5 years and was accompanied by a sharp rise in the use of PICU beds. In 150 patients (76%), HMV was initiated on an ICU with a total of 12,440 admission days, of which 10,385 days (83%) could be attributed to 67 patients who started non-electively with invasive HMV. Of the latter, 52 patients had been admitted to a PICU with a total of 9,335 admission days. At the end of the study, 134 patients (68%) were still being ventilated, 43 patients (22%) had died, 11 patients (6%) were weaned from HMV, 4 patients (2%) did not want to continue HMV and 5 patients (3%) were lost to follow-up.

Conclusions: Over time, there was an impressive increase in the application of HMV in children. This increase was most obvious in the youngest age group with invasive HMV, and these children had very long stays in the PICU.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Length of Stay
  • Netherlands
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency
  • Retrospective Studies