Noninvasive versus conventional ventilation to treat hypercapnic encephalopathy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Intensive Care Med. 2007 Dec;33(12):2101-8. doi: 10.1007/s00134-007-0837-2. Epub 2007 Sep 15.


Objective: We recently reported a high success rate using noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) to treat COPD exacerbations with hypercapnic encephalopathy. This study compared the hospital outcomes of NPPV vs. conventional mechanical ventilation (CMV) in COPD exacerbations with moderate to severe hypercapnic encephalopathy, defined by a Kelly score of 3 or higher.

Design and setting: A 3-year prospective matched case-control study in a respiratory semi-intensive care unit (RSICU) and intensive care unit (ICU).

Patients and participants: From 103 consecutive patients the study included 20 undergoing NPPV and 20 CMV, matched for age, simplified acute physiology score II, and baseline arterial blood gases.

Measurements and results: ABG significantly improved in both groups after 2 h. The rate of complications was lower in the NPPV group than in the CMV group due to fewer cases of nosocomial pneumonia and sepsis. In-hospital mortality, 1-year mortality, and tracheostomy rates were similar in the two groups. Fewer patients remained on ventilation after 30 days in NPPV group. The NPPV group showed a shorter duration of ventilation.

Conclusions: In COPD exacerbations with moderate to severe hypercapnic encephalopathy, the use of NPPV performed by an experienced team compared to CMV leads to similar short and long-term survivals with a reduced nosocomial infection rate and duration of ventilation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Brain Diseases / therapy*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / therapy*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intubation, Intratracheal*
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome