Prolonged and difficult weaning is associated with higher rates of complications and mortality. Therefore, it is important to identify the associated factors.
We describe our experience with a 37-year-old man diagnosed with severe viral pneumonia (influenza A). He presented with acute respiratory failure type I on admission. During intubation, his blood pressure and heart rate decreased, and epinephrine and norepinephrine were administered. Although his clinical condition improved 8 days after intensive care unit (ICU) admission, he experienced difficulty weaning. He remained conscious but had a poor spontaneous cough with sputum production and weak limb muscle strength. His cough reflex was absent during bronchoscopic sputum suction, and he used abdominal breathing during the T-tube test. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed an Arnold-Chiari malformation type I, posterior dislocation of the odontoid process, and syringomyelia, with compression and deformation of the medulla and high cervical cord. The patient was successfully weaned from the ventilator at 20 days after ICU admission.
Arnold-Chiari malformation type I and posterior dislocation of the odontoid process, which aggravate medullary compression and increase the risk of cervical nerve injury, might be a rare factor affecting prolonged weaning in critical illness.