Prevalence and Impact on Weaning of Pleural Effusion at the Time of Liberation from Mechanical Ventilation: A Multicenter Prospective Observational Study

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Pleural effusion is frequent in intensive care unit patients, but its impact on the outcome of weaning remains unknown.


In a prospective study performed in three intensive care units, pleural ultrasound was performed at the first spontaneous breathing trial to detect and quantify pleural effusion (small, moderate, and large). Weaning failure was defined by a failed spontaneous breathing trial and/or extubation requiring any form of ventilatory support within 48 h. The primary endpoint was the prevalence of pleural effusion according to weaning outcome.


Pleural effusion was detected in 51 of 136 (37%) patients and was quantified as moderate to large in 18 (13%) patients. As compared to patients with no or small pleural effusion, their counterparts were more likely to have chronic renal failure (39 vs. 7%; P = 0.01), shock as the primary reason for admission (44 vs. 19%; P = 0.02), and a greater weight gain (+4 [0 to 7] kg vs. 0 [−1 to 5] kg; P = 0.02). The prevalence of pleural effusion was similar in weaning success and weaning failure patients (odds ratio, 1.23; 95% CI, 0.61 to 2.49; P = 0.56), as was the prevalence of moderate to large pleural effusion (odds ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.33 to 2.41; P = 1.00). Duration of mechanical ventilation and intensive care unit length of stay were similar between patients with no or small pleural effusion and those with moderate to large pleural effusion.


Significant pleural effusion was observed in 13% of patients at the time of liberation from mechanical ventilation and was not associated with an alteration of weaning outcome. (ANESTHESIOLOGY 2017; 126:1107–15)

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