Respiratory Failure Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Apr 07, 2020
  • Author: Ata Murat Kaynar, MD; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Respiratory failure is a common and a life-threatening condition that demands prompt diagnosis and assessment and appropriate management.

Failure to visualize an obvious abnormality on chest radiographs in hypoxemic respiratory failure suggests the possibility of right-to-left shunting.

The vast majority of patients in acute respiratory failure due to cardiogenic pulmonary edema respond to measures to reduce preload and afterload. Those with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) require early elective intubation because the duration of respiratory failure is longer.

Hypercapnic respiratory failure occurs secondary to a variety of causes, including an increased respiratory muscle load, impaired neuromuscular function, and decreased respiratory drive caused by central nervous system (CNS) depression.

Differential Diagnoses