Using a device that supplies humidified oxygen is more effective than a technique that reduces positive airway pressure delivered to the lungs to wean patients from a ventilator to breathe on their own, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health. The research compared using a tracheostomy collar placed over a breathing tube in a tracheotomy incision through which humidified oxygen is given versus simply reducing the pressure support supplied via the ventilator.

The study, examined data on patients in three long-term acute care hospitals, Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Affairs Hospital, Hines, IL, RML Specialty Hospital, Hinsdale, IL, and Loyola University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, IL, and found that tracheostomy collars significantly outperformed pressure support in helping patients breathe on their own again. Researchers found the median weaning time among the 194 study participants was six days shorter with tracheostomy collar use.

In addition, the researchers discovered several clinical variables associated with the time required for successful weaning in addition to weaning technique: age, ventilator duration before randomizing, the ratio of how fast and deep a patient could breathe, and the strength of a patient's ability to inhale.