Noninvasive Ventilation Procedures

Updated: Apr 26, 2018
  • Author: Suneel Kumar Pooboni, MD, , FRCPCH, FRCP(Edin), FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Noninvasive ventilation (NIV) can be defined as a ventilation modality that supports breathing by delivering mechanically assisted breaths without the need for intubation or surgical airway. It is a popular method of adult respiratory management in both the emergency department (ED) and the intensive care unit (ICU), and it is increasingly used in the care of pediatric patients. Besides avoiding the adverse effects of invasive ventilation, NIV has the added advantage of patient comfort. It has become an important mechanism of ventilator support both inside and outside the ICU. [1, 2, 3]

NIV is subdivided into negative-pressure ventilation (NPV) and noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation (NIPPV); the latter is further subdivided into continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP). This article addresses all of these methods and briefly discusses heliox adjunct therapy.



NIV is indicated in neonates and infants as follows:

  • Weaning from the ventilator
  • Preventing collapse of the lung
  • Minimal need for respiratory support, with good respiratory drive

NIV is indicated in children as follows:

NIV is indicated in adults as follows:



Absolute contraindications for NIV are as follows:

  • Respiratory arrest or unstable cardiorespiratory status
  • Uncooperative patients
  • Inability to protect airway (impaired swallowing and cough)
  • Trauma or burns involving the face
  • Facial, esophageal, or gastric surgery
  • Apnea (poor respiratory drive)
  • Reduced consciousness

Relative contraindications for NIV are as follows:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Morbid obesity
  • Copious secretions
  • Need for continuous or nearly continuous ventilatory assistance
  • Lack of respiratory drive
  • Diseases with air trapping (eg, asthma) - In a child on CPAP, periodic monitoring is required; if the clinical condition and arterial blood gases deteriorate despite CPAP support, intubation should be considered


A large retrospective cohort study by Lindenauer et al found that patients with severe COPD exacerbations who were treated with NIV at the time of hospitalization had lower inpatient mortality, shorter length of stay, and lower costs than patients who were treated with invasive mechanical ventilation. [6]

Another large retrospective cohort study found that in 1254 patients hospitalized with asthma exacerbation and receiving ventilatory support in the form of NIV or invasive mechanical ventilation, those successfully treated with NIV appeared to have better outcomes than those treated with invasive mechanic ventilation. [7]  However, it is possible that NIV may have been used selectively in a lower risk group.