Objective: To evaluate the feasibility and safety of fiberoptic bronchoscopy (FOB) with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) during noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) delivered by helmet in patients with acute respiratory failure (ARF) and suspected pneumonia.
Design and setting: Prospective, clinical investigation in a general intensive care unit (ICU) of a university hospital.
Patients and participants: Four adult patients with ARF who underwent NPPV via the helmet and required fiberoptic BAL for suspected pneumonia.
Interventions: NPPV was delivered through the helmet in the pressure support ventilation mode. The specific seal connector placed in the plastic ring of the helmet allowed the passage of the bronchoscope, maintaining assisted ventilation. Arterial blood gas levels, pH, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, heart rate, and mean arterial blood pressure were monitored during the study.
Results: Helmet NPPV avoided gas exchanges deterioration during FOB and BAL, with good tolerance. During the procedure heart rate increased by 5% and mean arterial blood pressure by 7% over baseline; these levels returned to prebronchoscopic values immediately after the withdrawal of the bronchoscope. Endotracheal intubation was never required during the 24 h after the procedure. BAL yielded diagnostic information in three of four patients.
Conclusions: NPPV through the helmet allows a safe diagnostic FOB with BAL in patients with hypoxemic ARF, avoiding gas exchange deterioration, and endotracheal intubation.
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