Commentary: Nemoto T et al. (1999). Automatic control of pressure support mechanical ventilation using fuzzy logic


Dr Bronagh Blackwood, PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons), RGN, RNT, Lecturer in Nursing, Nursing & Midwifery Research Unit, Queen’s University Belfast, 10 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 5BN, Northern Ireland


There is currently no universally accepted approach to weaning patients from mechanical ventilation, but there is clearly a feeling within the medical community that it may be possible to formulate the weaning process algorithmically in some manner. Fuzzy logic seems suited to this task because of the way it so naturally represents the subjective human notions employed in much of medical decision-making. The purpose of the present study was to develop a fuzzy logic algorithm for controlling pressure support ventilation in patients in the intensive care unit, utilizing measurements of heart rate, tidal volume, breathing frequency and arterial oxygen saturation. In this report, we describe the fuzzy logic algorithm and demonstrate its use retrospectively in 13 patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, by comparing the decisions made by the algorithm with what actually transpired. The fuzzy logic recommendation agreed with the status quo to within 2 cm H2O an average of 76% of the time, and to within 4 cm H2O an average of 88% of the time (although in most of these instances no medical decisions were taken as to whether or not to change the level of ventilatory support). We also compared the predictions of our algorithm with those cases in which changes in pressure support level were actually made by an attending physician, and found that the physicians tended to reduce the support level somewhat more aggressively than the algorithm did. We conclude that our fuzzy algorithm has the potential to control the level of pressure support ventilation from ongoing measurements of a patient’s vital signs.

Abstract reprinted from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, volume 160, Nemoto T et al., ‘(1999) Automatic control of pressure support mechanical ventilation using fuzzy logic.’, pages 550–556. © 1999, reproduced with permission from The American Thoracic Society.