Association between Adrenal Insufficiency and Ventilator Weaning

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Adrenal insufficiency is a common disorder in critically ill patients with mechanical ventilation and is usually associated with higher mortality and poor clinical outcome.


To determine whether stress dose corticosteroid supplementation can improve ventilator weaning and clinical outcome in patients with adrenal insufficiency.


A prospective, randomized, placebo controlled, double-blinded study was conducted in the intensive care unit of a tertiary teaching hospital. A total of 93 mechanically ventilated patients were enrolled in the ventilator weaning trial. Adrenal function was assessed in all patients. Patients with adrenal insufficiency were randomized to the treatment group (50 mg intravenous hydrocortisone every 6 h) and the placebo group.

Measurements and Main Results:

The successful ventilator weaning percentage was significantly higher in the adequate adrenal reserve group (88.4%) and in the stress dose hydrocortisone treatment group (91.4%) than in the placebo group (68.6%). The weaning period was shorter in the hydrocortisone treatment group than in the placebo group. No significant adverse effects were observed in the corticosteroid treatment group.


For patients with respiratory failure, early identification of adrenal insufficiency and appropriate supplementation with stress dose hydrocortisone increase the success of ventilator weaning and shortens the weaning period.

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