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Respir Care. 2013 Jun;58(6):950-72. doi: 10.4187/respcare.02319.

Noninvasive ventilation for acute respiratory failure.

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  • 1Department of Respiratory Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Noninvasive ventilation (NIV) for acute respiratory failure has gained much academic and clinical interest. Despite this, NIV is underutilized. The evidence strongly supports its use in patients presenting with an exacerbation of COPD and in patients with acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema. As reviewed in this paper, there is now evidence supporting or not supporting the use of NIV in various other presentations of acute respiratory failure. It is important not only to know when to initiate NIV, but also when this therapy is failing. Whether NIV in the setting of acute respiratory failure can be managed appropriately outside the ICU setting is controversial. Although a variety of interfaces are available, the oronasal mask is the best initial interface in terms of leak prevention and patient comfort. Some critical care ventilators have NIV modes that compensate well for leaks, but as a group the ventilators that are designed specifically for NIV have better leak compensation. NIV should be part of the armamentarium of all clinicians caring from patients with acute respiratory failure.


COPD; acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema; acute respiratory failure; noninvasive ventilation

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