Spontaneous-Breathing Trials with Pressure-Support Ventilation or a T-Piece

N Engl J Med. 2022 Nov 17;387(20):1843-1854. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2209041. Epub 2022 Oct 26.


Background: Spontaneous-breathing trials can be performed with the use of either pressure-support ventilation (PSV) or a T-piece. Whether PSV trials may result in a shorter time to tracheal extubation than T-piece trials, without resulting in a higher risk of reintubation, among patients who have a high risk of extubation failure is unknown.

Methods: In this multicenter, open-label trial, we randomly assigned patients who had a high risk of extubation failure (i.e., were >65 years of age or had an underlying chronic cardiac or respiratory disease) to undergo spontaneous-breathing trials performed with the use of either PSV (with a pressure-support level of 8 cm of water and no positive end-expiratory pressure) or a T-piece. The primary outcome was the total time without exposure to invasive ventilation (reported as the number of ventilator-free days) at day 28 after the initial spontaneous-breathing trial. Secondary outcomes included extubation within 24 hours and extubation within 7 days after the initial spontaneous-breathing trial, as well as reintubation within 7 days after extubation.

Results: A total of 969 patients (484 in the PSV group and 485 in the T-piece group) were included in the analysis. At day 28, the median number of ventilator-free days was 27 (interquartile range, 24 to 27) in the PSV group and 27 (interquartile range, 23 to 27) in the T-piece group (difference, 0 days; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.5 to 1; P = 0.31). Extubation was performed within 24 hours in 376 patients (77.7%) in the PSV group and in 350 patients (72.2%) in the T-piece group (difference, 5.5 percentage points; 95% CI, 0.01 to 10.9), and extubation was performed within 7 days in 473 patients (97.7%) and 458 patients (94.4%), respectively (difference, 3.3 percentage points; 95% CI, 0.8 to 5.9). Reintubation was performed in 72 of 481 patients (14.9%) in the PSV group and in 65 of 477 patients (13.6%) in the T-piece group (difference, 1.3 percentage points; 95% CI, -3.1 to 5.8). Cardiac or respiratory arrest was a reason for reintubation in 9 patients (3 in the PSV group and 6 in the T-piece group).

Conclusions: Among patients who had a high risk of extubation failure, spontaneous-breathing trials performed with PSV did not result in significantly more ventilator-free days at day 28 than spontaneous-breathing trials performed with a T-piece. (Supported by the French Ministry of Health; TIP-EX ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04227639.).

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Airway Extubation* / adverse effects
  • Airway Extubation* / methods
  • Humans
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration* / instrumentation
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration* / methods
  • Recurrence
  • Respiration
  • Respiration, Artificial* / methods
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy
  • Ventilator Weaning* / adverse effects
  • Ventilator Weaning* / instrumentation
  • Ventilator Weaning* / methods

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04227639