High-frequency oscillatory ventilation in patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

J Crit Care. 2012 Apr;27(2):172-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2011.04.008. Epub 2011 Jun 28.


Purpose: High-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) is usually considered not indicated for treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) because of the theoretical risk of air trapping and hyperinflation. The aim of our study was to establish whether HFOV can be safely applied in patients with acute exacerbation of COPD and hypercapnic respiratory failure.

Methods: Ten patients (age, 63-83 years) requiring intensive care treatment who failed on noninvasive ventilation were studied. After initial conventional mechanical ventilation (CMV) of less than 72 hours, all patients were transferred to HFOV for 24 hours and then back to CMV. Arterial blood gases, spirometry, and hemodynamic parameters were repeatedly obtained in all phases of CMV and HFOV at different settings. Regional lung aeration and ventilation were assessed by electrical impedance tomography.

Results: High-frequency oscillatory ventilation was tolerated well; no adverse effects or severe hyperinflation and hemodynamic compromise were observed. Effective CO(2) elimination and oxygenation were achieved. Ventilation was more homogeneously distributed during HFOV than during initial CMV. Higher respiratory system compliance and tidal volume were found during CMV after 24 hours of HFOV.

Conclusions: Our study indicates that short-term HFOV, using lower mean airway pressures than recommended for acute respiratory distress syndrome, appears safe in patients with COPD while securing adequate pulmonary gas exchange.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Critical Care / methods
  • High-Frequency Ventilation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / complications
  • Hypercapnia / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / complications
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome