Study objectives: Noninvasive ventilation, although effective as treatment for patients with acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema when prolonged for hours, is of limited use in the emergency department (ED). The aim of the study was to determine whether a short attempt at noninvasive pressure support ventilation avoids ICU admittance and to identify lack of response prediction variables.
Design: Prospective inception cohort study.
Setting: ED of a university hospital.
Patients: Fifty-eight consecutive patients with cardiogenic pulmonary edema who had been unresponsive to medical treatment and were admitted between January 1999 and December 2000.
Interventions: Pressure support ventilation was instituted through a full-face mask until the resolution of respiratory failure. A 15-min "weaning test" was performed to evaluate clinical stability. Responder patients were transferred to a medical ward. Nonresponding patients were intubated and were admitted to the ICU.
Main outcome measures: The included optimal length of intervention, the avoidance of ICU admittance, the incidence of myocardial infarction, and predictive lack of response criteria.
Results: Patients completed the trial (mean [+/- SD] duration, 96 +/- 40 min). None of the responders (43 patients; 74%) was subsequently ventilated or was admitted to the ICU. Two new episodes of myocardial infarction were observed. Thirteen of 58 patients died. A mean arterial pressure of < 95 mm Hg (odds ratio [OR], 10.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8 to 60.8; p < 0.01) and COPD (OR, 9.4; 95% CI, 1.6 to 54.0; p < 0.05) at baseline predicted the lack of response to noninvasive ventilation.
Conclusions: A short attempt at noninvasive ventilation is effective in preventing invasive assistance. A 15-min weaning test can identify patients who will not need further invasive ventilatory support. COPD and hypotension at baseline are negative predictive criteria.