Ventilators for Noninvasive Ventilation to Treat Acute Respiratory Failure

Respir Care 2008;53(8):1054–1080

Authors: Raffaele Scala MD and Mario Naldi MD

The application of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) to treat acute respiratory failure has increased tremendously both inside and outside the intensive care unit. The choice of ventilator is crucial for success of NIV in the acute setting, because poor tolerance and excessive air leaks are significantly correlated with NIV failure.

Patient-ventilator asynchrony and discomfort can occur if the physician or respiratory therapist fails to adequately set NIV to respond to the patient’s ventilatory demand, so clinicians need to fully understood the ventilator’s technical peculiarities (eg, efficiency of trigger and cycle systems, speed of pressurization, air-leak compensation, CO2 rebreathing, reliability of fraction of inspired oxygen reading, monitoring accuracy). A wide range of ventilators of different complexity have been introduced into clinical practice to noninvasively support patients in acute respiratory failure, but the numerous commercially available ventilators (bi-level, intermediate, and intensive care unit ventilators) have substantial differences that can influence patient comfort, patient-ventilator interaction, and, thus, the chance of NIV clinical success.

This report examines the most relevant aspects of the historical evolution, the equipment, and the acuterespiratory-failure clinical application of NIV ventilators.