As we all know, NiPPV is a well established practice and therapy of choice in patients with COPD and CHF exacerbations.  It is typically used in patients with hypercarbic respiratory failure.  But for those patients who come to the ED with pure hypoxemic respiratory failure (in say, someone with pneumonia) is there a better way to oxygenate them when standard nasal cannula isn’t doing the trick and you want to avoid intubation?  According to 2 recent studies high flow nasal cannula may provide the answer.  In comparing NiPPV to standard oxygen delivery therapy to high flow nasal cannula the intubation rates did not differ significantly, but appear to be lower in the high flow NC group.  Additionally, the 90 day mortality rate was significantly lower and ventilator free days were increased in the the high flow NC group compared to the other two.  The other benefit is that there was less patient discomfort in the high flow NC group.

It is important to note that high flow nasal cannula should probably only be thought of as a potential first line therapy for purely hypoxemic respiratory failure.   NPPV remains first line in hypercarbic respiratory failure.

To read these studies go to the following: