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High-frequency ventilation and oscillation 

High-frequency ventilation and oscillation
High-frequency ventilation and oscillation

Mireia Cuartero

and Niall D. Ferguson

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date: 27 February 2020

High-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) is a key member of the family of modes called high-frequency ventilation and achieves adequate alveolar ventilation despite using very low tidal volumes, often below the dead space volume, at frequencies significantly above normal physiological values. It has been proposed as a potential protective ventilatory strategy, delivering minimal alveolar tidal stretch, while also providing continuous lung recruitment. HFOV has been successfully used in neonatal and paediatric intensive care units over the last 25 years. Since the late 1990s adults with acute respiratory distress syndrome have been treated using HFOV. In adults, several observational studies have shown improved oxygenation in patients with refractory hypoxaemia when HFOV was used as rescue therapy. Several small older trials had also suggested a mortality benefit with HFOV, but two recent randomized control trials in adults with ARDS have shed new light on this area. These trials not show benefit, and in one of them a suggestion of harm was seen with increased mortality for HFOV compared with protective conventional mechanical ventilation strategies (tidal volume target 6 mL/kg with higher positive end-expiratory pressure). While these findings do not necessarily apply to patients with severe hypoxaemia failing conventional ventilation, they increase uncertainty about the role of HFOV even in these patients.

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