Background: COPD patients who remain hypercapnic after acute respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation have a poor prognosis. Long-term nocturnal non-invasive ventilation (NIV) may be beneficial for these patients. We hypothesized that stable patients on long-term NIV would experience clinical worsening after withdrawal of NIV.
Methods: We included 26 consecutive COPD patients (63 ± 6 years, 58% male, FEV(1) 31 ± 14% predicted) who remained hypercapnic after acute respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation. After a six month run-in period, during which all patients received NIV, they were randomised to either continue (ventilation group, n = 13) or to stop NIV (withdrawal group, n = 13). The primary endpoint was time to clinical worsening defined as an escalation of mechanical ventilation.
Results: All patients remained stable during the run-in period. After randomisation the withdrawal group had a higher probability of clinical worsening compared to the ventilation group (p = 0.0018). After 12 months, ten patients (77%) in the withdrawal group, but only two patients (15%) in the ventilation group, experienced clinical worsening (p = 0.0048). Six-minute walking distance increased in the ventilation group.
Conclusion: COPD patients who remain hypercapnic after acute respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation may benefit from long-term NIV.
Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier Ltd.