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Respiration. 2011;82(5):426-30. doi: 10.1159/000324441. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

The total face mask is more comfortable than the oronasal mask in noninvasive ventilation but is not associated with improved outcome.

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Department of Respiratory Disease, Pro-Cardíaco Hospital, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



Noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation (NPPV) is commonly used to improve ventilation and oxygenation and avoid endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. Although clinically indicated, most patients fail to use NPPV due to mask intolerance. A total face mask was designed to increase compliance, but whether this translates into better outcome (improvement in clinical and blood gas parameters and less intubation) is unknown.


We compared the evolution of the clinical parameters, blood gases, levels of ventilatory support and rate of endotracheal intubation using the total face mask or the traditional oronasal mask during NPPV.


A total of 60 patients were randomized to use either mask during NPPV. The clinical and laboratory parameters, as well as the level of ventilatory support were recorded at different intervals in both groups for up to 6 h. In addition, the tolerance for each mask and the need for endotracheal intubation were compared.


Patients tolerated the total face mask significantly better (p = 0.0010) and used NPPV for a longer time (p = 0.0017) when compared with the oronasal mask. Just 1 patient switched to the total face mask because of intolerance. Although better tolerated, the rate of endotracheal intubation was similar in both groups (p = 0.4376), as was the clinical and laboratory evolution.


The total face mask was more comfortable, allowing the patients to tolerate NPPV longer; however, these accomplishments did not translate into a better outcome. Due to its comfort, the total face mask should be available, at least as an option, in units where NPPVs are routinely applied.

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