Helium-oxygen versus air-oxygen noninvasive pressure support in decompensated chronic obstructive disease: A prospective, multicenter study

Philippe Jolliet, Didier Tassaux, Jean Roeseler, Luc Burdet, Alain Broccard, William D'Hoore, François Borst, Marc Reynaert, Marie Denise Schaller, Jean Claude Chevrolet

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84 Scopus citations


Objective: To study whether noninvasive pressure support ventilation (NIPSV) with helium/oxygen (He/oxygen), which can reduce dyspnea, Paco2, and work of breathing more than NIPSV with air/oxygen in decompensated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, could have beneficial consequences on outcome and hospitalization costs. Design: Prospective, randomized, multicenter study. Setting: Intensive care units of three tertiary care university hospitals. Patients: All patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease admitted to the intensive care units for NIPSV during a 24-month period. Interventions: Patients were randomized to NIPSV with air/oxygen or He/oxygen. NIPSV settings, number of daily trials, decision to intubate, and intensive care unit and hospital discharge criteria followed standard practice guidelines. Results: A total of 123 patients (male/female ratio, 71:52; age, 71 ± 10 yrs, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II, 17 ± 4) were included. Intubation rate (air/oxygen 20% vs. He/oxygen 13%) and length of stay in the intensive care unit (air/oxygen 6.2 ± 5.6 vs. He/oxygen 5.1 ± 4 days) were comparable. The post-intensive care unit hospital stay was lower with He/oxygen (air/oxygen 19 ± 12 vs. He/oxygen 13 ± 6 days, p < .002). Cost of NIPSV gases was higher with He/oxygen, but total hospitalization costs were lower by $3,348 per patient with He/oxygen. No complications were associated with the use of He/oxygen. Conclusion: He/oxygen did not significantly reduce intubation rate or intensive care unit stay, but hospital stay was shorter and total costs were lower. He/oxygen NIPSV can be safely administered and could prove to be a cost-effective strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-884
Number of pages7
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Heliox
  • Helium
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Noninvasive ventilation
  • Outcome


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