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Mechanical ventilation weaning issues.

Abstract

Although mechanical ventilation may be a patient’s vital ally during acute illness, it can quickly transform into an enemy during chronic conditions.

The weaning process is the fundamental phase that enables the resumption of physiological respiratory function; however, it is also associated with a number of life-threatening complications, and a large percentage of critically ill patients never achieve airway device removal or require the resumption of mechanical ventilation just a few days post-weaning.

Indeed, the weaning process is, at present, more of an art than a science.

As such, there is urgent need for novel contributions from the scientific literature to abate the growing rates of morbidity and mortality associated with weaning failure.

The physician attempting to wean a patient must integrate clinical parameters and common-sense criteria. Numerous studies have striven to identify single predictive factors of weaning failure and sought to standardize the weaning process, but the results are characterized by remarkable heterogeneity.

Despite the lack of benchmarks, it is clear that the analysis of respiratory function must include a detailed overview of the five situations described below rather than a single aspect.

The purpose of this two-part review is to provide a comprehensive description of these situations to clarify the “arena” physicians are entering when weaning critically ill patients from mechanical ventilation.

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