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Aust Crit Care. 2002 May;15(2):51-63.

Bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) and acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema (ACPO) in the emergency department.

Author information

  • Department of Clinical Nursing, University of Sydney, NSW.


Patients in acute respiratory failure (ARF) frequently present to the emergency department (ED). Traditionally management has involved mechanical ventilation via endotracheal intubation. Such invasive forms of treatment, however, correlate with a higher incidence of infection, mortality, length of stay and contribute to the costs of intensive care. Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) such as bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) may therefore provide an alternative and preferable form of treatment. Whilst contemporary literature supports the use of BiPAP in hypercapnic ARF, its role in acute hypoxaemic presentations remains elusive. Specifically, the efficacy and safety of BiPAP in the treatment of acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema (ACPO) remains a contentious issue. The aim of this paper is to explore the physiological rationale for treatment of ACPO with BiPAP. Particular attention will focus on the comparative theoretical advantages of BiPAP in relation to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), and a review of recent research. Discussion will incorporate timeliness in the application of BiPAP, indicators of successful treatment, appropriate manipulation of pressure settings, nursing workload and management of patients beyond the ED. Whilst the theoretical advantages of BiPAP ventilation are acknowledged, larger randomised controlled research studies are recommended in order to clearly ensure its safe and effective application in the treatment of ACPO.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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