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If invasive ventilation can be avoided by performing noninvasive mechanical ventilation (NIV) in patients with acute respiratory failure (ARF), the disease can be effectively managed. It is important to clarify the characteristics of patients with neuromuscular diseases in whom initial NIV is likely to be unsuccessful. We studied 27 patients in stable neuromuscular condition who initially received NIV to manage fatal ARF to identify differences in factors immediately before the onset of ARF among patients who receive continuous NIV support, patients who are switched from NIV to invasive ventilation, and patients in whom NIV is discontinued. Endpoints were evaluated 24 and 72 hours after the initiation of NIV. After 24 hours, all but 1 patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) received continuous NIV support. 72 hours later, 5 patients were switched from NIV to invasive ventilation, and 5 patients continued to receive NIV support. 72 hours after the initiation of NIV, the proportion of patients with a diagnosis of ALS differed significantly among the three groups (P=0.039). NIV may be attempted to manage acute fatal respiratory failure associated with neuromuscular diseases, but clinicians should carefully manage the clinical course in patients with ALS.
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