Use of Ultrasound to Determine Changes in Diaphragm Mechanics During A Spontaneous Breathing Trial

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Whebell, Stephen
Sane, Sunil
Naidu, Sumant
White, Hayden
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OBJECTIVE: Assess change in ultrasound measures of diaphragm mechanics over the course of a 30-minute spontaneous breathing trial (SBT). DESIGN: Prospective observational study. SETTING: Single intensive care unit (Logan Hospital, Queensland, Australia), patients recruited from August 2016 to April 2018. PARTICIPANTS: Eligible patients were over the age of 18 years, ventilated for >24 hours, and planned to undergo an SBT. In total, 129 patients were screened. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Ultrasound measures taken at 5 and 30 minutes during SBT: diaphragmatic excursion (DE), diaphragmatic thickening fraction (DTF), and diaphragmatic contraction speed (DCS). Diaphragmatic rapid shallow breathing index (DRSBI) was calculated using DE/respiratory rate. The presence of diaphragmatic dysfunction (DD) was also determined using DTF < 30%, DE < 11 mm, or DRSBI > 1.6. RESULTS: Eighteen patients had ultrasound measures during an SBT. Four were unable to have DTF visualized. There was no significant change in DTF (n = 14, 32.41 ± 32.21 vs 23.19 ± 17.42, P = .33) or DE (n = 18, 1.72 ± 0.63 vs 1.66 ± 0.59, P = .63) over time. Diaphragmatic contraction speed increased over time (n = 18, 2.21 ± 1.25 vs 2.67 ± 1.61, P = .007). Diaphragmatic rapid shallow breathing index worsened over time (n = 18, 1.65 ± 1.02 vs 2.08 ± 1.51, P = .03). There was no significant change in the presence of DD. Diaphragmatic dysfunction by DTF 8/14 versus 10/14, by DE 4/18 versus 3/18, and by DRSBI 7/18 versus 9/18. No patients failed SBT and one patient failed extubation. CONCLUSIONS: Diaphragmatic mechanics may change over the course of an SBT. Further research is required to determine the clinical implications of these changes and the optimal timing of diaphragmatic ultrasound to predict weaning outcome. Diaphragmatic ultrasound may be less feasible than the published data suggest.

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Journal of Intensive Care Medicine

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Clinical sciences


airway extubation

imaging utilization

intensive care

mechanical ventilation


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Whebell, S; Sane, S; Naidu, S; White, H, Use of Ultrasound to Determine Changes in Diaphragm Mechanics During A Spontaneous Breathing Trial, Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, 2020