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REVIEW ARTICLES  XIX SMART CONGRESS - Milan, 28-30 May 2008
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Minerva Anestesiologica 2008 June;74(6):297-301

Copyright © 2008 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

Prolonged mechanical ventilation after critical illness

Mauri T. 1, 2, Pivi S. 1, 3, Bigatello L. M. 1

1 Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; 2 Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Milano-Bicocca, Monza, Milan, Italy; 3 Department of Anesthesiology, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy


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A significant number of patients that have been critically ill require mechanical ventilation for extended periods of time as they progress towards recovery. Many of these patients can be cared for outside of the Intensive Care Unit in facilities focused on stabilizing the underlying medical problems, managing ventilatory support, and planning for rehabilitation and home care. Although these units have varied administrative structures, they have reported similar encouraging rates of weaning and survival. In a recent study about such a ward at a large academic hospital, it was observed that, although the majority of patients were liberated from the ventilator and returned home with a satisfactory activity level, a significant number of patients did not; these patients eventually died after a protracted hospital stay, mostly after a consensual withdrawal of life support. In the present article, a relevant literature review is presented concerning the outcome of patients undergoing prolonged mechanical ventilation. The main focus of the research was to address how to alleviate the burden of prolonged critical illness on mechanically ventilated patients who may eventually die after a great deal of suffering, and to identify the tangible emotional and financial costs to these patients, their families, and society.

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