Successful management of severe respiratory failure combining heliox with noninvasive high-frequency percussive ventilation

Crit Care Med. 2002 Mar;30(3):692-4. doi: 10.1097/00003246-200203000-00032.


Heliox has been shown to be beneficial in the management of different obstructive pulmonary disorders. High-frequency percussive ventilation has recently been advocated to treat lung injury in children with reduced lung compliance. We report our experience of combining heliox with noninvasive high-frequency percussive ventilation in a 5-yr-old boy with severe acute respiratory failure resulting from advanced cystic fibrosis lung disease. The dramatic improvement allowed stabilization and withholding of endotracheal intubation. We hypothesize that this approach improved gas exchange by enhancing molecular diffusion and by favoring laminar flow throughout the upper and lower airways. Further investigations should study the mechanisms of this noninvasive bimodal therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Helium / therapeutic use*
  • High-Frequency Ventilation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Positive-Pressure Ventilation
  • Male
  • Masks
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*


  • Helium
  • heliox
  • Oxygen