• chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • home mechanical ventilation;
  • non-invasive positive pressure ventilation;
  • respiratory failure;
  • weaning


Background and objective:  Patients with COPD who require prolonged weaning from invasive mechanical ventilation show poor long-term survival. Whether non-invasive home mechanical ventilation (HMV) has a beneficial effect after prolonged weaning has not yet been clearly determined.

Methods:  Patients with COPD who required prolonged weaning and were admitted to a specialized weaning centre between January 2002 and February 2008 were enrolled in the study. Long-term survival and prognostic factors, including the role of non-invasive HMV, were evaluated.

Results:  Of 117 patients (87 men, 30 women; mean age 69.5 ± 9.5 years) included in the study, weaning from invasive ventilation was achieved in 82 patients (70.1%). Successful weaning was associated with better survival 1 year after discharge from hospital (hazard ratio (HR) 2.24, 95% CI: 1.16–4.31; P = 0.016). Among the 82 patients who were successfully weaned, non-invasive HMV was initiated in 39 (47.6%) due to persistent chronic ventilatory failure. Initiation of HMV was associated with a higher rate of survival to 1 year as compared with patients who did not receive ventilatory support (84.2% vs 54.3%; HR 3.68, 95% CI: 1.43–9.43; P = 0.007). In addition, younger age and higher PaO2, haemoglobin concentration and haematocrit at discharge were associated with better survival. In an adjusted multivariate analysis, initiation of non-invasive HMV after successful weaning remained an independent prognostic factor for survival to 1 year (HR 3.63, 95% CI: 1.23–10.75; P = 0.019).

Conclusions:  These findings suggest that based on the potential for improvement in long-term survival, non-invasive HMV should be considered in patients with severe COPD and persistent chronic hypercapnic respiratory failure after prolonged weaning.