Complications of non-invasive ventilation techniques: a comprehensive qualitative review of randomized trials

Br J Anaesth. 2013 Jun;110(6):896-914. doi: 10.1093/bja/aet070. Epub 2013 Apr 5.


Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) has become a common treatment for acute and chronic respiratory failure. In comparison with conventional invasive mechanical ventilation, NIV has the advantages of reducing patient discomfort, procedural complications, and mortality. However, NIV is associated with frequent uncomfortable or even life-threatening adverse effects, and patients should be thoroughly screened beforehand to reduce potential severe complications. We performed a detailed review of the relevant medical literature for NIV complications. All major NIV complications are potentially life-threatening and can occur in any patient, but are strongly correlated with the degree of pulmonary and cardiovascular involvement. Minor complications can be related to specific structural features of NIV interfaces or to variable airflow patterns. This extensive review of the literature shows that careful selection of patients and interfaces, proper setting of ventilator modalities, and close monitoring of patients from the start can greatly reduce NIV complications.

Keywords: complications; non-invasive ventilation; respiratory; ventilation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Noninvasive Ventilation / adverse effects*
  • Noninvasive Ventilation / methods
  • Phobic Disorders / etiology
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / etiology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology