Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation reverses acute respiratory failure in select "do-not-intubate" patients

Crit Care Med. 2005 Sep;33(9):1976-82. doi: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000178176.51024.82.


Objective: To determine the outcome from the use of noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) in "do-not-intubate" (DNI) patients in acute respiratory failure.

Design: Prospective observational study.

Setting: University-affiliated large medical center.

Patients: All patients with DNI status who received NPPV for a 1-yr period.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Demographic, physiologic, and laboratory data were collected before initiation, 2 hrs after initiation, and each morning and evening for as long as NPPV was provided. Data were recorded on 137 episodes of acute respiratory failure in 131 DNI patients. Hospital mortality rate was 37.5% in 24 patients with an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 39% in 28 patients with acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema, 68% in nine patients with non-COPD hypercapnic ventilatory failure, 77% in 13 post-extubation respiratory failure patients, and 86% in 57 patients with hypoxemic respiratory failure. Advanced cancer was present in 40 patients and was associated with increased risk of death (85% mortality rate, p = .002). A score based on the Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS) II and serum albumin level calculated before NPPV was predictive of hospital outcome.

Conclusions: NPPV is successful in reversing acute respiratory failure and preventing hospital mortality in DNI patients with COPD and cardiogenic pulmonary edema but not in patients with post-extubation failure, hypoxemic respiratory failure, or end-stage cancer. An easy-to-calculate score combining SAPS II and serum albumin level is a good prediction of outcome in DNI patients receiving NPPV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Male
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy
  • Pulmonary Edema / etiology
  • Pulmonary Edema / therapy
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Terminal Care*


  • Serum Albumin