Home ventilation

A K Simonds
European Respiratory Journal. Supplement 2003, 47: 38s-46s
Home ventilation is a growth area. Rapid expansion during the 1990s was stimulated by the development of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) via a mask and the recognition that an increased number of patient groups can benefit. Although patients receiving NIV in the home outnumber those receiving invasive ventilation via tracheostomy, there is substantial variation in practice between European countries. Evidence that individuals who develop ventilatory failure as a consequence of chest wall disease or stable neuromuscular disease such as old poliomyelitis benefit from nocturnal NIV is overwhelming. Patients with progressive neuromuscular disease such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis can also derive prolongation of life, palliation of symptoms and an improvement in quality of life. Home ventilation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients remains controversial. Multicentric randomised controlled trials of long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) versus NIV plus LTOT in COPD have produced mixed results, although certain subgroups, e.g. those with recurrent infective exacerbations requiring short-term NIV, patients aged >65 yrs, and those with uncontrolled hypercapnia on LTOT or symptomatic nocturnal hypoventilation, may benefit. At the other end of the age spectrum, children as young as a few months can be successfully treated with noninvasive ventilation. Most work on paediatric home ventilation centres on children with congenital neuromuscular disease. Pressure preset bilevel ventilators are now the dominant form of ventilator in adults and children. Discharge planning is vital for the home ventilator patient and a sensible risk management strategy should be in place.

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