Open Access Research article

Study of multiparameter respiratory pattern complexity in surgical critically ill patients during weaning trials

Vasilios E Papaioannou1*, Ioanna G Chouvarda2, Nikos K Maglaveras2 and Ioannis A Pneumatikos1

Author Affiliations

1 Alexandroupolis University Hospital, Intensive Care Unit, Democritus University of Thrace, Dragana 68100, Greece

2 Laboratory of Medical Informatics, School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124, Greece

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BMC Physiology 2011, 11:2  doi:10.1186/1472-6793-11-2

Published: 21 January 2011



Separation from mechanical ventilation is a difficult task, whereas conventional predictive indices have not been proven accurate enough, so far. A few studies have explored changes of breathing pattern variability for weaning outcome prediction, with conflicting results. In this study, we tried to assess respiratory complexity during weaning trials, using different non-linear methods derived from theory of complex systems, in a cohort of surgical critically ill patients.


Thirty two patients were enrolled in the study. There were 22 who passed and 10 who failed a weaning trial. Tidal volume and mean inspiratory flow were analyzed for 10 minutes during two phases: 1. pressure support (PS) ventilation (15-20 cm H2O) and 2. weaning trials with PS: 5 cm H2O. Sample entropy (SampEn), detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) exponent, fractal dimension (FD) and largest lyapunov exponents (LLE) of the two respiratory parameters were computed in all patients and during the two phases of PS. Weaning failure patients exhibited significantly decreased respiratory pattern complexity, reflected in reduced sample entropy and lyapunov exponents and increased DFA exponents of respiratory flow time series, compared to weaning success subjects (p < 0.001). In addition, their changes were opposite between the two phases of the weaning trials. A new model including rapid shallow breathing index (RSBI), its product with airway occlusion pressure at 0.1 sec (P0.1), SampEn and LLE predicted better weaning outcome compared with RSBI, P0.1 and RSBI* P0.1 (conventional model, R2 = 0.874 vs 0.643, p < 0.001). Areas under the curve were 0.916 vs 0.831, respectively (p < 0.05).


We suggest that complexity analysis of respiratory signals can assess inherent breathing pattern dynamics and has increased prognostic impact upon weaning outcome in surgical patients.