Handgrip strength to predict extubation outcome: a prospective multicenter trial

Ann Intensive Care. 2021 Oct 2;11(1):144. doi: 10.1186/s13613-021-00932-3.


Background: ICU-acquired weakness (ICUAW) has been shown to be associated with prolonged duration of mechanical ventilation and extubation failure. It is usually assessed through Medical Research Council (MRC) score, a time-consuming score performed by physiotherapists. Handgrip strength (HG) can be monitored very easily at the bedside. It has been shown to be a reproducible and reliable marker of global muscular strength in critical care patients. We sought to test if muscular weakness, as assessed by handgrip strength, was associated with extubation outcome.

Methods: Prospective multicenter trial over an 18 months period in six mixed ICUs. Adults receiving mechanical ventilation for at least 48 h were eligible. Just before weaning trial, HG, Maximal Inspiratory Pressure (MIP), Peak Cough Expiratory Flow (PCEF) and Medical Research Council (MRC) score were registered. The attending physicians were unaware of the tests results and weaning procedures were conducted according to guidelines. Occurrence of unscheduled reintubation, non-invasive ventilation (NIV) or high-flow nasal continuous oxygen (HFNC) because of respiratory failure within 7 days after extubation defined extubation failure. The main outcome was the link between HG and extubation outcome.

Results: 233 patients were included. Extubation failure occurred in 51 (22.5%) patients, 39 (17.2%) required reintubation. Handgrip strength was 12 [6-20] kg and 12 [8-20] kg, respectively, in extubation success and failure (p = 0.85). There was no association between extubation outcome and MRC score, MIP or PCEF. Handgrip strength was well correlated with MRC score (r = 0.718, p < 0.0001). ICU and hospital length of stay were significantly higher in the subset of patients harboring muscular weakness as defined by handgrip performed at the first weaning trial (respectively, 15 [10-25] days vs. 11 [7-17] days, p = 0.001 and 34 [19-66] days vs. 22 [15-43] days, p = 0.002).

Conclusion: No association was found between handgrip strength and extubation outcome. Whether this was explained by the appropriateness of the tool in this specific setting, or by the precise impact of ICUAW on extubation outcome deserves to be further evaluated. Trial registration Clinical Trials; NCT02946502, 10/27/2016, URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=&term=gripwean&cntry=&state=&city=&dist=.

Keywords: Extubation; Handgrip; Intensive care unit-acquired weakness; Weaning.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02946502