Hi, it’s Patrik Hutzel from intensivecarehotline.com with another quick tip for families in intensive care.
So Glen, one of our readers writes, he says, what are the disadvantages of being ventilated for longer than 10 days?
So, Glen, that’s a very good question and I presume you are referring to needing a tracheostomy after about 10 or 14 days in ICU. Because that’s when most families in intensive care, and also ICU teams referred to the sort of 10-day mark of being ventilated.
So there’s advantages and disadvantages of being ventilated for longer than 10 days. The advantage is that somebody can be weaned off the ventilator in their own time once a tracheostomy has been done. So basically, when somebody goes into ICU and he’s ventilated, they go into ICU and start off with the breathing tube or an endotracheal tube in their mouth.
And then after about 10 days, if they can’t be weaned off the ventilator and extubated, they need a tracheostomy simply because a breathing tube or endotracheal tube requires an induced coma and sedation. And you can’t be in an induced coma and on sedation forever.
So therefore a tracheostomy after about 10 days, helps your loved one to be weaned off sedation and wake up and also being weaned off the ventilator in their own time. They are off sedation out of the induced coma, a tracheostomy is much easier to tolerate doesn’t need, again, any sedation or an induced coma. It’s easier for patients to get mobilized that helps with getting off the ventilator too.
So that’s mainly the advantages, again, a breathing tube can’t stay in for more than 10 or 14 days, the disadvantages of being ventilated longer than 10 days, and having a tracheostomy simply, you know it’s another procedure, you need to have a tracheostomy. It’s a small invasive procedure, sometimes even a surgical procedure.
And then the next step is to get off that ventilator and that depending on why your loved one is in ICU can take days, weeks, months, sometimes it’s for the rest of people’s lives. So those are the disadvantages.
In the ideal world, you always want to get off that ventilator and the breathing tube as quickly as possible. You don’t want to go down the track of tracheostomy but it is definitely there if need be. And it can definitely buy time and help a patient to wean off in their own time. But the goal should always be to wean off the ventilator and the breathing tube in the first place that makes life so much easier.
So that’s my tip for today. If you have any questions, post them below or send us an email to [email protected].
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This is Patrik Hutzel from intensivecarehotline.com.