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.