Abstract

Background

Difficult weaning frequently develops in ventilated patients and is associated with poor outcome. In neurally adjusted ventilatory assist, the ventilator is controlled by diaphragm electrical activity, which has been shown to improve patient–ventilator interaction. The objective of this study was to compare neurally adjusted ventilatory assist and pressure support ventilation in patients difficult to wean from mechanical ventilation.

Methods

In this nonblinded randomized clinical trial, difficult-to-wean patients (n = 99) were randomly assigned to neurally adjusted ventilatory assist or pressure support ventilation mode. The primary outcome was the duration of weaning. Secondary outcomes included the proportion of successful weaning, patient–ventilator asynchrony, ventilator-free days, and mortality. Weaning duration was calculated as 28 days for patients under mechanical ventilation at day 28 or deceased before day 28 without successful weaning.

Results

Weaning duration in all patients was statistically significant shorter in the neurally adjusted ventilatory assist group (n = 47) compared with the pressure support ventilation group (n = 52; 3.0 [1.2 to 8.0] days vs. 7.4 [2.0 to 28.0], mean difference: −5.5 [95% CI, −9.2 to −1.4], P = 0.039). Post hoc sensitivity analysis also showed that the neurally adjusted ventilatory assist group had shorter weaning duration (hazard ratio, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.34 to 0.98). The proportion of patients with successful weaning from invasive mechanical ventilation was higher in neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (33 of 47 patients, 70%) compared with pressure support ventilation (25 of 52 patients, 48%; respiratory rate for neurally adjusted ventilatory assist: 1.46 [95% CI, 1.04 to 2.05], P = 0.026). The number of ventilator-free days at days 14 and 28 was statistically significantly higher in neurally adjusted ventilatory assist compared with pressure support ventilation. Neurally adjusted ventilatory assist improved patient ventilator interaction. Mortality and length of stay in the intensive care unit and in the hospital were similar among groups.

Conclusions

In patients difficult to wean, neurally adjusted ventilatory assist decreased the duration of weaning and increased ventilator-free days.

Editor’s Perspective
What We Already Know about This Topic
  • Neurally adjusted ventilatory assist is safe and well tolerated by patients

  • It improves patient–ventilator interaction

What This Article Tells Us That Is New
  • In selected patients difficult to wean from mechanical ventilation, neurally adjusted ventilatory assist improves patient outcome indicated by reduction in duration of weaning

  • Such a benefit seems most prominent in tracheostomized patients

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