Predicting Reintubation After Unplanned Extubations in Children: Art or Science?

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Reintubation following unplanned extubation (UE) is often required and associated with increased morbidity; however, knowledge of risk factors leading to reintubation and subsequent outcomes in children is still lacking. We sought to determine the incidence, risk factors, and outcomes related to reintubation after UEs.


All mechanically ventilated children were prospectively tracked for UEs over a 7-year period in a pediatric intensive care unit. For each UE event, data associated with reintubation within 24 hours and outcomes were collected.


Of 757 intubated patients, 87 UE occurred out of 11 335 intubation days (0.76 UE/100 intubation days), with 57 (65%) requiring reintubation. Most of the UEs that did not require reintubation were already weaning ventilator settings prior to UE (73%). Univariate analysis showed that younger children (<1 year) required reintubation more frequently after an UE. Patients experiencing UE during weaning experienced significantly fewer reintubations, whereas 90% of patients with full mechanical ventilation support required reintubation. Logistic regression revealed that requirement of full ventilator support (odds ratio: 37.5) and a COMFORT score <26 (odds ratio: 5.5) were associated with UE failure. There were no differences between reintubated and nonreintubated patients regarding the length of hospital stay, ventilator-associated pneumonia rate, need for tracheostomy, and mortality. Cardiovascular and respiratory complications were seen in 33% of the reintubations.


The rate of reintubation is high in children experiencing UE. Requirement of full ventilator support and a COMFORT score <26 are associated with reintubation. Prospective research is required to better understand the reintubation decisions and needs.

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