BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Non invasive ventilation (NIV) is currently employed for weaning from invasive ventilation (IMV) in the acute setting but its use for weaning from prolonged ventilation is still occasional and not standardized. We wanted to evaluate whether a combined protocol of NIV and decannulation in tracheostomized patients needing prolonged mechanical ventilation was feasible and what would be the one-year outcome.
METHODS: We studied patients still dependent from invasive mechanical ventilation with the following inclusion criteria: a) tolerance of at least 8h of unsupported breathing, b) progressive hypercapnia/acidosis after invasive ventilation discontinuation, c) good adaptation to NIV, d) favorable criteria for decannulation. These patients were switched from IMV to NIV and decannulated; then they were discharged on home NIV and followed-up for one year in order to evaluate survival and complications rate.
RESULTS: Data from patients consecutively admitted to a weaning unit were prospectively collected between 2005 and 2018. Out of 587 patients admitted over that period, 341 were liberated from prolonged mechanical ventilation. Fifty-one out of 147 unweaned patients (35%) were eligible for the protocol but only 46 were enrolled. After a mean length of stay of 35 days they were decannulated and discharged on domiciliary NIV. After one year, 38 patients were still alive (survival rate 82%) and 37 were using NIV with good adherence (only one patient was switched again to invasive ventilation).
CONCLUSIONS: NIV applied to patients with failed weaning from prolonged IMV is feasible and can facilitate the decannulation process. Patients successfully completing this process show good survival rates and few complications.