Heart rate variability and extubation readiness in extremely preterm infants

Jennifer Kaczmarek, Sanjay Chawla, Cinzia Marchica, Meghan Dwaihy, Linda Grundy, Guilherme Mendes Sant'Anna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Mechanical ventilation (MV) is associated with changes in autonomic nervous system activity in preterm infants, which can be assessed by measurements of heart rate variability (HRV). Decreased HRV has been described in adults undergoing disconnection from MV; such information is not available in preterm infants. Objective: To compare differences in HRV between infants successfully extubated and those who failed, and to evaluate the accuracy of HRV as a predictor of extubation readiness. Methods: This is a prospective, observational study of infants with a birth weight ≤1,250 g undergoing their first extubation attempt. Heart rate was measured during a 60-min period immediately prior to extubation and HRV was calculated using the frequency domain analysis. Results: A total of 47 infants were studied; 36 were successfully extubated and 11 reintubated. There were no differences in patient demographics, ventilator settings, blood gases or postextubation management between the groups. All components of the HRV analysis were significantly decreased in infants who failed, generating high areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve. The specificity and positive predictive values were 100, but with limited sensitivity and negative predictive values. Conclusions: Infants considered 'ready to be extubated' but who subsequently failed their first extubation attempt had decreased HRV prior to extubation. Though promising, the value of HRV as a predictor of extubation readiness requires further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical predictors
  • Extubation failure
  • Extubation readiness
  • Heart rate variability


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