Effect of mechanical ventilation and pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with ICU-acquired weakness: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ann Palliat Med. 2021 Sep;10(9):9594-9606. doi: 10.21037/apm-21-1928.


Background: ICU-acquired weakness (ICU-AW) is characterized by neuromuscular damage such as limb weakness, yet the cause of ICU-AW remains unclear, which significantly increases the time a patient spends on mechanical ventilation (MV)/in ICU and can even affect a patient's survival rate and quality of life after being discharged. Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR)-related measures can effectively improve the ICU-AW situation, but in the specific implementation actions, many obstacles have been produced, and the treatment effect has been controversial, especially in the application process of mechanically ventilated patients. This study aims to confirm the efficacy of using MV alongside PR for patients with ICU-AW.

Methods: We obtained related randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from Chinese and English databases. All RCTs relevant to the use of PR in ICU-AW patients were retrieved from the following databases from their date of inception through January 31th, 2021: PubMed, EMBASE, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI), Web of Science, The Wanfang Database, and CNKI. This literature underwent screening, quality evaluation, and index data extraction by two independent researchers. The evaluation data were meta-analyzed with RevMan 5.3 software (Cochrane, London, UK).

Results: In total, we analyzed 15 articles which included 1,710 patients. We found that using PR alongside MV can effectively improve a patient's Medical Research Council (MRC) muscle strength score [mean difference (MD) =4.92, P=0.07], reduce the prevalence of ICU-AW [odds ratio (OR) =0.24, P<0.001], and shorten both MV duration [standardized mean difference (SMD) =-1.50, P<0.001] and ICU stay (SMD =-0.68, P=0.03).

Discussion: Implementing PR alongside MV can effectively reduce ICU-AW in patients. However, our standardized cluster PR study still requires further clarification to confirm how various intervention methods can reduce ICU-AW.

Keywords: Acquired weakness (AW); ICU; mechanical ventilation (MV); meta-analysis; pulmonary rehabilitation (PR).

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • London
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Prevalence
  • Respiration, Artificial*