Rationale: Difficult weaning from mechanical ventilation is often associated with fluid overload. B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) has been proposed as a tool for predicting and detecting weaning failure of cardiovascular origin.
Objectives: To investigate whether fluid management guided by daily BNP plasma concentrations improves weaning outcomes compared with empirical therapy dictated by clinical acumen.
Methods: In a randomized controlled multicenter study, we allocated 304 patients to either a BNP-driven or physician-driven strategy of fluid management during ventilator weaning. To standardize the weaning process, patients in both groups were ventilated with an automatic computer-driven weaning system. The primary end point was time to successful extubation.
Measurements and main results: In the BNP-driven group, furosemide and acetazolamide were given more often and in higher doses than in the control group, resulting in a more negative median (interquartile range) fluid balance during weaning (-2,320 [-4,735, 738] vs. -180 [-2,556, 2,832] ml; P < 0.0001). Time to successful extubation was significantly shorter with the BNP-driven strategy (58.6 [23.3, 139.8] vs. 42.4 [20.8, 107.5] h; P = 0.034). The BNP-driven strategy increased the number of ventilator-free days but did not change length of stay or mortality. The effect on weaning time was strongest in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. The two strategies did not differ significantly regarding electrolyte imbalance, renal failure, or shock.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that a BNP-driven fluid management strategy decreases the duration of weaning without increasing adverse events, especially in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00473148).