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Noninvasive ventilation versus oxygen therapy in patients with acute respiratory failure

Frat, Jean-Pierrea,b; Joly, Florenta; Thille, Arnaud W.a,b

Current Opinion in Anesthesiology: April 2019 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 150–155
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000705

Purpose of review High-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy (HFOT) is becoming an alternative to noninvasive ventilation (NIV) and standard oxygen in management of patients with acute respiratory failure.

Recent findings Patients with de novo acute respiratory failure should be managed with HFOT rather than NIV. Indeed, the vast majority of patients with de novo respiratory failure meet the criteria for ARDS, and NIV does not seem protective, as patients generate overly high tidal volume that may worsen underlying lung injury. However, NIV remains the first-line oxygenation strategy in postoperative patients and those with acute hypercapnic respiratory failure when pH is equal to or below 7.35. During preoxygenation, NIV also seems to be more efficient than standard oxygen using valve-bag mask to prevent profound oxygen desaturation. In postoperative cardiothoracic patients, HFOT could be an alternative to NIV in the management of acute respiratory failure.

Summary Recent recommendations for managing patients with acute respiratory failure have been established on the basis of studies comparing NIV with standard oxygen. Growing use of HFOT will lead to new studies comparing NIV versus HFOT in view of more precisely defining the appropriate indications for each treatment.

aMédecine Intensive Réanimation, CHU de Poitiers

bINSERM CIC 1402 - ALIVE, Faculté de Médecine et Pharmacie, Université de Poitiers, Poitiers, France

Correspondence to Jean-Pierre Frat, Médecine Intensive Réanimation, CHU de Poitiers, 2 rue la Milétrie, 86021 Poitiers Cedex, France. Tel: +33 5 49 44 40 07; e-mail:

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