Prehospital noninvasive ventilation for acute respiratory failure: systematic review, network meta-analysis, and individual patient data meta-analysis

Acad Emerg Med. 2014 Sep;21(9):960-70. doi: 10.1111/acem.12466.


Objectives: This meta-analysis aimed to determine the effectiveness of prehospital continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel inspiratory positive airway pressure (BiPAP) in acute respiratory failure.

Methods: Fourteen electronic databases and research registers were searched from inception to August 2013. Randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials that reported mortality or intubation rate for prehospital CPAP or BiPAP were selected and compared to a relevant comparator in patients with acute respiratory failure. An aggregate data network meta-analysis was used to jointly estimate intervention effects relative to standard care. A network meta-analysis using a mixture of individual patient-level data and aggregate data was carried out to assess potential treatment effect modifiers.

Results: Eight randomized and two quasi-randomized controlled trials (six CPAP, four BiPAP, sample sizes 23 to 207) were identified. The aggregate data network meta-analysis suggested that CPAP was the most effective treatment in terms of mortality (probability = 0.989) and intubation rate (probability = 0.639) and reduced both mortality (odds ratio [OR] = 0.41; 95% credible interval [CrI] = 0.20 to 0.77) and intubation rate (OR = 0.32; 95% CrI = 0.17 to 0.62), compared to standard care. The effect of BiPAP on mortality (OR = 1.94; 95% CrI = 0.65 to 6.14) and intubation rate (OR = 0.40; 95% CrI = 0.14 to 1.16) was uncertain. The network meta-analysis using individual patient-level data and aggregate data suggested that sex was a modifier of the effect of treatment on mortality.

Conclusions: Prehospital CPAP can reduce mortality and intubation rates compared to standard care, while the effectiveness of prehospital BiPAP is uncertain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Emergency Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Noninvasive Ventilation / methods*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*