Noninvasive Ventilation in Acute Hypoxemic Nonhypercapnic Respiratory Failure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Crit Care Med. 2017 Jul;45(7):e727-e733. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000002361.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of noninvasive ventilation in patients with acute hypoxemic nonhypercapnic respiratory failure unrelated to exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiogenic pulmonary edema.

Data sources: PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane library, Web of Science, and bibliographies of articles were retrieved inception until June 2016.

Study selection: Randomized controlled trials comparing application of noninvasive ventilation with standard oxygen therapy in adults with acute hypoxemic nonhypercapnic respiratory failure were included. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation and cardiogenic pulmonary edema patients were excluded. The primary outcome was intubation rate; ICU mortality and hospital mortality were secondary outcomes.

Data extraction: Demographic variables, noninvasive ventilation application, and outcomes were retrieved. Internal validity was assessed using the risk of bias tool. The strength of evidence was assessed using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation methodology.

Data synthesis: Eleven studies (1,480 patients) met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed by using a random effects model. Compared with standard oxygen therapy, the pooled effect showed that noninvasive ventilation significantly reduced intubation rate with a summary risk ratio of 0.59 (95% CI, 0.44-0.79; p = 0.0004). Furthermore, hospital mortality was also significantly reduced (risk ratio, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.24-0.87; p = 0.02). Subgroup meta-analysis showed that the application of bilevel positive support ventilation (bilevel positive airway pressure) was associated with a reduction in ICU mortality (p = 0.007). Helmet noninvasive ventilation could reduce hospital mortality (p = 0.0004), whereas face/nasal mask noninvasive ventilation could not.

Conclusions: Noninvasive ventilation decreased endotracheal intubation rates and hospital mortality in acute hypoxemia nonhypercapnic respiratory failure excluding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation and cardiogenic pulmonary edema patients. There is no sufficient scientific evidence to recommend bilevel positive airway pressure or helmet due to the limited number of trials available. Large rigorous randomized trials are needed to answer these questions definitely.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noninvasive Ventilation / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*