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Med Clin (Barc). 2003 May 10;120(17):647-51.

[Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute respiratory failure in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in a general respiratory ward].

[Article in Spanish]

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Unidad Médico-Quirúrgica de Enfermedades Respiratorias. Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío. Sevilla. Spain.



In patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), noninvasive ventilatory support (NPPV) with bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) may improve clinical and physiological parameters. The present study used a randomized, prospective design to evaluate the possible benefits of NPPV plus standard therapy versus standard therapy alone in patients admitted with acute hypercapnic respiratory failure in a respiratory unit of a tertiary hospital.


Forty-one patients were included in the study. Of them, 20 were randomly allocated to receive NPPV with a standard mask connected to a BiPAP ventilatory assist device (Respironics Inc, Murrysville, PA) and 21 to standard therapy. Both groups had similar characteristics upon their admission in the hospital.


The use of noninvasive ventilation significantly reduced the respiratory rates and improved the conscious level within the first 2 h (p < 0.001). There were significant differences in PaCO2 and pH (p < 0.05) at 6 h of treatment. The need for intubation was 5% in the NPPV group vs 14% in the control group. The length of hospital stay was significantly shorter in the NPPV group (7 vs 10 days; p < 0.01). Nasal NPPV was well tolerated and complications were uncommon and mild.


Early use of noninvasive ventilation in patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease leads to a more rapid improvement of physiological variables. Moreover, it is possible to apply this treatment in a general respiratory ward.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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