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Update in computer-driven weaning from mechanical ventilation

RMIT University, Bundoora and The University of Melbourne and Intensive Care Unit, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Summary

Weaning from mechanical ventilation is a complex process requiring assessment and interpretation of both objective and subjective clinical parameters. For many years, automated computerised systems for various medical processes, including respiratory management, have been proposed to optimise decision-making and reduce variation amongst clinicians. SmartCare™/PS, available since 2003 as a software application for the EvitaXL ventilator (Dräger Medical AG & Co. KG, Lübeck, Germany), is one of the first such ventilator systems to be made commercially available. SmartCare/PS can be described as a knowledge-based weaning system, which adjusts pressure support based on measurement of the patient’s respiratory status, specifically the spontaneous respiratory rate, tidal volume and end-tidal carbon dioxide with the aim of optimising the weaning process. The primary proposed advantage of this system is an ability to provide management of ventilatory weaning through continuous physiological monitoring and real-time interventions. The relatively small number of available clinical studies indicate the system is able to deliver appropriate ventilation during pressure support weaning from both short-term and prolonged ventilation. Of potential clinical note, a recent study suggested that use of SmartCare/PS might be associated with useful reductions in the duration of weaning compared to existing clinical practice using weaning protocols. One recently published randomised trial supports this conclusion. However, given the known large variation in international critical care ventilatory practices further randomised trials are desirable.

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