Intensive Care Medicine

, 35:977

Corticosteroids to prevent extubation failure: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • John McCaffrey
  • Clare Farrell
  • Paul Whiting
  • Arina Dan
  • Sean M. Bagshaw
  • Anthony P. Delaney



To determine whether corticosteroids reduce the rate of extubation failure in intensive care patients of all age groups.


Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, bibliographies of relevant articles, selected conference abstracts and unpublished trial databases were searched. Randomised clinical trials (RCTs) evaluating corticosteroids for the purpose of preventing extubation failure in mechanically ventilated, critically ill patients of all ages were included. Two authors independently assessed the validity of included studies and extracted data regarding characteristics of the studies and the rates of reintubation and manifestations of laryngeal oedema.


Fourteen RCTs including 2,600 participants were included. The mean duration of ventilation prior to attempted extubation ranged from 3 to 21 days. There was a reduction in reintubation with the use of corticosteroids, with a pooled odds ratio (OR) of 0.56 (95% CI; 0.41–0.77, P < 0.0005). The effect of corticosteroids tended to be more pronounced in studies when used at least 12 h prior to attempted extubation (OR 0.41, 95% CI; 0.26–0.64). The results were consistent across neonatal, paediatric and adult populations. There was also a reduction in laryngeal oedema in participants receiving corticosteroids, with a pooled OR of 0.36 (95% CI 0.27–0.49, P < 0.0005).


Corticosteroids reduce laryngeal oedema and importantly reduce the incidence of extubation failure in critically ill patients of all ages.


Mechanical ventilation Weaning Peri-operative care Artifical airways Complications 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John McCaffrey
    • 1
  • Clare Farrell
    • 2
  • Paul Whiting
    • 3
  • Arina Dan
    • 1
  • Sean M. Bagshaw
    • 4
    • 5
  • Anthony P. Delaney
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Intensive Care UnitRoyal North Shore HospitalSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of AnaesthesiaRoyal North Shore HospitalSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Anaesthesia and Critical CareSheffield Hospital TrustSheffieldUK
  4. 4.Division of Critical Care MedicineUniversity of Alberta HospitalEdmontonCanada
  5. 5.Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  6. 6.Northern Clinical SchoolUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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