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Arch Bronconeumol. 2002 Aug;38(8):372-5.

[Non-invasive ventilation in patients with severe hypercapnic encephalopathy in a conventional hospital ward].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Neumología, Fundación Jiménez Díaz, Madrid, Spain.



To report our experience with non-invasive ventilation (NIV) at two levels of pressure (Bi-PAP) on a general respiratory medicine ward with patients in hypercapnic impaired consciousness and/or coma who had not previously been in an intensive care unit (ICU).


This was a prospective study of 13 patients, mean age 81 years (65-96), treated with NIV through a face mask. Ten had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, with a mean FEV1 in stable condition of 35.2 14.6%. Glasgow scores upon admission were >/= 7. Arterial gases were monitored until suspension of NIV.


After NIV for a mean 19 5 h/day in the first 48 hours and later of 6 1 h/day until a total of 74 9 h, 9 patients (69%) survived. The mean initial pH for these patients was 7.17 0.028 and the mean initial pCO2 was 101 9 mm Hg. In 7 cases (78%), coma was reversed in the first 48 h and a significant improvement in pH was observed in the 12-24 h analysis. Mean pH upon discharge was 7.44 0.013 and mean pCO2 was 54 2.8 mmHg. Four patients died, even though their initial or subsequent arterial gases at 12-24 h were not significantly different from those of the survivors.


NIV on a general respiratory medicine ward can offer an alternative to oro-tracheal intubation for patients with hypercapnic impaired consciousness and/or coma who do not meet the criteria for admission to the ICU.

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