Comparison of noninvasive positive pressure ventilation with standard medical therapy in hypercapnic acute respiratory failure

Chest. 1998 Dec;114(6):1636-42. doi: 10.1378/chest.114.6.1636.


Study objective: To compare the efficacy of standard medical therapy (ST) and noninvasive mechanical ventilation additional to standard medical therapy in hypercapnic acute respiratory failure (HARF).

Design: Single center, prospective, randomized, controlled study.

Setting: Pulmonary medicine directed critical care unit in a university hospital.

Patients: Between March 1993 and November 1996, 30 HARF patients were randomized to receive ST or noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) in addition to ST.

Interventions: NPPV was given with an air-cushioned face via a mechanical ventilator (Puritan Bennett 7200) with initial setting of 5 cm H2O continuous positive airway pressure and 15 cm H2O pressure support.

Results: At the time of randomization, patients in the ST group had (mean+/-SD) PaO2 of 54+/-13 mm Hg, PaCO2 of 67+/-11 mm Hg, pH of 7.28+/-0.02, and respiratory rate of 35.0+/-5.8 breaths/min. Patients in the NPPV group had PaO2 of 55+/-14, PaCO2 of 69+/-15, pH of 7.27+/-0.07, and respiratory rate of 34.0+/-8.1 breaths/min. With ST, there was significant improvement of only respiratory rate (p < 0.05). However, with NPPV, PaO2 (p < 0.001), PaCO2 (p < 0.001), pH (p < 0.001), and respiratory rate (p < 0.001) improved significantly compared with baseline. Six hours after randomization, pH (p < 0.01) and respiratory rate (p < 0.01) in NPPV patients were significantly better than with ST. Hospital stay for NPPV vs ST patients was, respectively, 11.7+/-3.5 and 14.6+/-4.7 days (p < 0.05). One patient in the NPPV group required invasive mechanical ventilation. The conditions of six patients in the ST group deteriorated and they were switched to NPPV; this was successful in four patients, two failures were invasively ventilated.

Conclusion: This study suggests that early application of NPPV in HARF patients facilitates improvement, decreases need for invasive mechanical ventilation, and decreases the duration of hospitalization.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / etiology
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / complications
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome