Non-invasive continuous positive airway pressure in acute hypoxaemic respiratory failure--experience of an emergency department

Eur J Emerg Med. 1998 Sep;5(3):313-8.


Non-invasive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) seems to decrease the need for intubation in patients with severe cardiogenic pulmonary oedema (CPO) in the intensive care unit. The goals of our study were to delineate indications for CPAP in the emergency department, and to confirm its usefulness in such a setting. We retrospectively assess the evolution of all patients ventilated under CPAP for an acute hypoxaemic respiratory failure over a 1-year period (n = 64 patients). Hypercarbia and respiratory acidosis were present in most patients with CPO (PaCO2 = 54.4+/-22.3 mmHg; pH = 7.27+/-0.13), according to respiratory exhaustion, although initial PaCO2 was low in the pneumonia group. There was a significant improvement of arterial blood gases after 1 hour of ventilation in the CPO group (PaO2 = 254.1+/-121.0 mmHg; PaCO2 = 44.0+/-12.6 mmHg; pH = 7.34+/-0.08; p < 0.0001 for both parameters). In the pneumonia group, oxygenation was also improved but with the persistence of a significant shunt (PaO2 = 157.6+/-84.4 mmHg). Fifty-four patients (84%) were considered as successfully ventilated under CPAP, with no need for intubation and a favourable evolution, mainly in the CPO group. No side effects were reported. In conclusion, CPAP is a useful and easy-to-use ventilatory device in the emergency department. It is now one of our first line treatments during prehospital and emergency care of patients with CPO.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Critical Care
  • Emergency Treatment
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / etiology
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Hypoxia / therapy*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Masks
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / complications
  • Pneumonia / diagnosis
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods*
  • Pulmonary Edema / complications
  • Pulmonary Edema / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / mortality
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome