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Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute respiratory failure in children: a concise review

  • Najaf-Zadeh A
  • Leclerc F
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Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) refers to the delivery of mechanical respiratory support without the use of endotracheal intubation (ETI). The present review focused on the effectiveness of NPPV in children > 1 month of age with acute respiratory failure (ARF) due to different conditions. ARF is the most common cause of cardiac arrest in children. Therefore, prompt recognition and treatment of pediatric patients with pending respiratory failure can be lifesaving. Mechanical respiratory support is a critical intervention in many cases of ARF. In recent years, NPPV has been proposed as a valuable alternative to invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) in this acute setting. Recent physiological studies have demonstrated beneficial effects of NPPV in children with ARF. Several pediatric clinical studies, the majority of which were noncontrolled or case series and of small size, have suggested the effectiveness of NPPV in the treatment of ARF due to acute airway (upper or lower) obstruction or certain primary parenchymal lung disease, and in specific circumstances, such as postoperative or postextubation ARF, immunocompromised patients with ARF, or as a means to facilitate extubation. NPPV was well tolerated with rare major complications and was associated with improved gas exchange, decreased work of breathing, and ETI avoidance in 22-100% of patients. High FiO2 needs or high PaCO2 level on admission or within the first hours after starting NPPV appeared to be the best independent predictive factors for the NPPV failure in children with ARF. However, many important issues, such as the identification of the patient, the right time for NPPV application, and the appropriate setting, are still lacking. Further randomized, controlled trials that address these issues in children with ARF are recommended.




Najaf-Zadeh, A., & Leclerc, F. (2011). Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute respiratory failure in children: a concise review. Annals of Intensive Care, 1(1).

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