High flow nasal cannula in acute hypercapnic exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: an emerging utility
High flow nasal cannula (HFNC) provides warmed and humidified air with flow rates up to 60 liters/min with relatively fixed oxygen content (FiO2). It has been extensively evaluated for hypoxemic respiratory failure and has been used in mild acute respiratory distress syndrome, pre-intubation, bronchoscopy and pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. Recent data has suggested a role in stable hypercapnic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even in acute exacerbations, though, the use has not been advocated by any guidelines yet. We present a case of acute hypercapnic exacerbation of COPD, intolerant to non-invasive ventilation, showing response and improvement on use of HFNC. This case highlights this potential mechanisms and prospects for the same.
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