Preliminary Communication
Caring for the Critically Ill Patient
June 14, 2016

Effect of Noninvasive Ventilation Delivered by Helmet vs Face Mask on the Rate of Endotracheal Intubation in Patients With Acute Respiratory Distress SyndromeA Randomized Clinical Trial

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Chicago, Department of Medicine, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Chicago, Illinois

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;315(22):2435-2441. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.6338

Importance  Noninvasive ventilation (NIV) with a face mask is relatively ineffective at preventing endotracheal intubation in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Delivery of NIV with a helmet may be a superior strategy for these patients.

Objective  To determine whether NIV delivered by helmet improves intubation rate among patients with ARDS.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Single-center randomized clinical trial of 83 patients with ARDS requiring NIV delivered by face mask for at least 8 hours while in the medical intensive care unit at the University of Chicago between October 3, 2012, through September 21, 2015.

Interventions  Patients were randomly assigned to continue face mask NIV or switch to a helmet for NIV support for a planned enrollment of 206 patients (103 patients per group). The helmet is a transparent hood that covers the entire head of the patient and has a rubber collar neck seal. Early trial termination resulted in 44 patients randomized to the helmet group and 39 to the face mask group.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who required endotracheal intubation. Secondary outcomes included 28-day invasive ventilator–free days (ie, days alive without mechanical ventilation), duration of ICU and hospital length of stay, and hospital and 90-day mortality.

Results  Eighty-three patients (45% women; median age, 59 years; median Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation [APACHE] II score, 26) were included in the analysis after the trial was stopped early based on predefined criteria for efficacy. The intubation rate was 61.5% (n = 24) for the face mask group and 18.2% (n = 8) for the helmet group (absolute difference, −43.3%; 95% CI, −62.4% to −24.3%; P < .001). The number of ventilator-free days was significantly higher in the helmet group (28 vs 12.5, P < .001). At 90 days, 15 patients (34.1%) in the helmet group died compared with 22 patients (56.4%) in the face mask group (absolute difference, −22.3%; 95% CI, −43.3 to −1.4; P = .02). Adverse events included 3 interface-related skin ulcers for each group (ie, 7.6% in the face mask group had nose ulcers and 6.8% in the helmet group had neck ulcers).

Conclusions and Relevance  Among patients with ARDS, treatment with helmet NIV resulted in a significant reduction of intubation rates. There was also a statistically significant reduction in 90-day mortality with helmet NIV. Multicenter studies are needed to replicate these findings.

Trial Registration Identifier: NCT01680783