Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute respiratory failure following upper abdominal surgery

Debora A S Faria, Edina M K da Silva, Álvaro N Atallah, Flávia M R Vital
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015 October 5, (10): CD009134

BACKGROUND: Each year, more than four million abdominal surgeries are performed in the US and over 250,000 in England. Acute respiratory failure, a common complication that can affect 30% to 50% of people after upper abdominal surgery, can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Noninvasive ventilation has been associated with lower rates of tracheal intubation in adults with acute respiratory failure, thus reducing the incidence of complications and mortality. This review compared the effectiveness and safety of noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) versus standard oxygen therapy in the treatment of acute respiratory failure after upper abdominal surgery.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness and safety of noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV), that is, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel NPPV, in reducing mortality and the rate of tracheal intubation in adults with acute respiratory failure after upper abdominal surgery, compared to standard therapy (oxygen therapy), and to assess changes in arterial blood gas levels, hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay, gastric insufflation, and anastomotic leakage.

SEARCH METHODS: The date of the last search was 12 May 2015. We searched the following databases: the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (CENTRAL) (2015, Issue 5), MEDLINE (Ovid SP, 1966 to May 2015), EMBASE (Ovid SP, 1974 to May 2015); the physiotherapy evidence database (PEDro) (1999 to May 2015); the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL, EBSCOhost, 1982 to May 2015), and LILACS (BIREME, 1986 to May 2015). We reviewed reference lists of included studies and contacted experts. We also searched grey literature sources. We checked databases of ongoing trials such as and We did not apply language restrictions.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials involving adults with acute respiratory failure after upper abdominal surgery who were treated with CPAP or bilevel NPPV with, or without, drug therapy as standard medical care, compared to adults treated with oxygen therapy with, or without, standard medical care.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently selected and abstracted data from eligible studies using a standardized form. We evaluated study quality by assessing allocation concealment; random sequence generation; incomplete outcome data; blinding of participants, personnel, and outcome assessors; selective reporting; and adherence to the intention-to-treat (ITT) principle.

MAIN RESULTS: We included two trials involving 269 participants. The participants were mostly men (67%); the mean age was 65 years. The trials were conducted in China and Italy (one was a multicentre trial). Both trials included adults with acute respiratory failure after upper abdominal surgery. We judged both trials at high risk of bias. Compared to oxygen therapy, CPAP or bilevel NPPV may reduce the rate of tracheal intubation (risk ratio (RR) 0.25; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.08 to 0.83; low quality evidence) with a number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome of 11. There was very low quality evidence that the intervention may also reduce ICU length of stay (mean difference (MD) -1.84 days; 95% CI -3.53 to -0.15). We found no differences for mortality (low quality evidence) and hospital length of stay. There was insufficient evidence to be certain that CPAP or NPPV had an effect on anastomotic leakage, pneumonia-related complications, and sepsis or infections. Findings from one trial of 60 participants suggested that bilevel NPPV, compared to oxygen therapy, may improve blood gas levels and blood pH one hour after the intervention (partial pressure of arterial oxygen (PaO2): MD 22.5 mm Hg; 95% CI 17.19 to 27.81; pH: MD 0.06; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.11; partial pressure of arterial carbon dioxide (PCO2) levels (MD -9.8 mm Hg; 95% CI -14.07 to -5.53). The trials included in this systematic review did not present data on the following outcomes that we intended to assess: gastric insufflation, fistulae, pneumothorax, bleeding, skin breakdown, eye irritation, sinus congestion, oronasal drying, and patient-ventilator asynchrony.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this review indicate that CPAP or bilevel NPPV is an effective and safe intervention for the treatment of adults with acute respiratory failure after upper abdominal surgery. However, based on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology, the quality of the evidence was low or very low. More good quality studies are needed to confirm these findings.

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