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Predictors of extubation readiness in preterm infants: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Wissam Shalish1,
  2. Samantha Latremouille1,
  3. Jesse Papenburg2,
  4. Guilherme Mendes Sant’Anna1
  1. 1 Department of Pediatrics, Neonatal Division, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2 Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Guilherme Mendes Sant’Anna, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H4A 3J1, Canada; guilherme.santanna{at}


Context A variety of extubation readiness tests have already been incorporated into clinical practice in preterm infants.

Objective To identify predictor tests of successful extubation and determine their accuracy compared with clinical judgement alone.

Methods MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed, Cochrane Library and Web of Science were searched between 1984 and June 2016. Studies evaluating predictors of extubation success during a period free of mechanical inflations in infants less than 37 weeks’ gestation were included. Risk of bias was assessed using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2 tool. After identifying and describing all predictor tests, pooled sensitivity and specificity estimates for the different test categories were generated using a bivariate random-effects model.

Results Thirty-five studies were included, showing wide heterogeneities in population characteristics, methodologies and definitions of extubation success. Assessments ranged from a few seconds to 24 hours, provided 0–6 cmH2O positive end-expiratory pressure and measured several clinical and/or physiological parameters. Thirty-one predictor tests were identified, showing good sensitivities but low and variable specificities. Given the high variation in test definitions across studies, pooling could only be performed on a subset. The commonly performed spontaneous breathing trials had pooled sensitivity of 95% (95% CI 87% to 99%) and specificity of 62% (95% CI 38% to 82%), while composite tests offered the best performance characteristics.

Conclusions There is a lack of strong evidence to support the use of extubation readiness tests in preterm infants. Although spontaneous breathing trials are attractive assessment tools, higher quality studies are needed for determining the optimal strategies for improving their accuracy.

  • intensive care
  • neonatology
  • respiratory

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  • Contributors WS had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. WS and GMS participated in the concept and design of the study. WS, SL and GMS performed the study selection and data collection. WS and SL conducted the risk of bias assessment. WS, JP and GMS performed the analysis and contributed to interpretation of the data for the work. WS drafted the manuscript, and all authors critically revised the manuscript and approved the version to be published. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.