NIV in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: The 'when' and 'how' of the matter

Respirology. 2019 Jun;24(6):521-530. doi: 10.1111/resp.13525. Epub 2019 Mar 25.


Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) has become an essential part of the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) since 2006. NIV very significantly improves survival, quality of life and cognitive performances. The initial NIV settings are simple, but progression of the disease, ventilator dependence and upper airway involvement sometimes make long-term adjustment of NIV more difficult, with a major impact on survival. Unique data concerning the long-term adjustment of NIV in ALS show that correction of leaks, management of obstructive apnoea and adaptation to the patient's degree of ventilator dependence improve the prognosis. Non-ventilatory factors also impact the efficacy of NIV and various solutions have been described and must be applied, including cough assist techniques, control of excess salivation and renutrition. NIV in ALS has been considerably improved as a result of application of all of these measures, avoiding the need for tracheostomy in the very great majority of cases. More advanced use of NIV also requires pulmonologists to master the associated end-of-life palliative care, as well as the modalities of discontinuing ventilation when it becomes unreasonable.

Keywords: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; drainage, postural; non-invasive ventilation; palliative care; sleep apnoea, obstructive.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / physiopathology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / psychology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / therapy
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Noninvasive Ventilation / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life*