Objective: In randomized studies of heterogeneous patients with hypoxemic acute respiratory failure, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) was associated with a significant reduction in endotracheal intubation. The role of NPPV in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is still unclear. The objective was to investigate the application of NPPV as a first-line intervention in patients with early ARDS, describing what happens in everyday clinical practice in centers having expertise with NPPV.
Design: Prospective, multiple-center cohort study.
Setting: Three European intensive care units having expertise with NPPV.
Patients: Between March 2002 and April 2004, 479 patients with ARDS were admitted to the intensive care units. Three hundred and thirty-two ARDS patients were already intubated, so 147 were eligible for the study.
Interventions: Application of NPPV.
Measurements and main results: NPPV improved gas exchange and avoided intubation in 79 patients (54%). Avoidance of intubation was associated with less ventilator-associated pneumonia (2% vs. 20%; p < .001) and a lower intensive care unit mortality rate (6% vs. 53%; p < .001). Intubation was more likely in patients who were older (p = .02), had a higher Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS) II (p < .001), or needed a higher level of positive end-expiratory pressure (p = .03) and pressure support ventilation (p = .02). Only SAPS II >34 and a Pao2/Fio2 < or =175 after 1 hr of NPPV were independently associated with NPPV failure and need for endotracheal intubation.
Conclusions: In expert centers, NPPV applied as first-line intervention in ARDS avoided intubation in 54% of treated patients. A SAPS II >34 and the inability to improve Pao2/Fio2 after 1 hr of NPPV were predictors of failure.