To avoid the complications associated with endotracheal intubation, noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation (NPPV) has been proposed in the management of ventilator weaning in patients with acute respiratory failure (ARF) of various etiologies. Several studies have been performed to assess the benefit of NPPV in various weaning strategies, including permitting early extubation in patients who fail to meet standard extubation criteria (facilitation use), avoiding reintubation in patients who fail extubation (curative use), and preventing extubation failure in nonselected and selected patients (preventive use). NPPV has been successfully used in facilitating early extubation, particularly in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In contrast, applying curative NPPV to treat postextubation ARF in nonselected populations may not be effective and could even be deleterious. Early use of NPPV was successful in preventing ARF after extubation, and decreased the need for reintubation in selected patients at risk of developing postextubation ARF. It is important that caregivers clearly differentiate among these application modalities of NPPV. The skills and expertise of both medical and nonmedical personnel are crucial predictive factors for the success of NPPV in the ventilator weaning process.
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