Helmet vs Face Mask NIV for ARDS

I originally posted this article on 6/21/19 while preparing my NIV/BiPAP lecture. During that process, I learned and shared on IG about using a helmet rather than a mask for NIV (non-invasive ventilation). Looking at the footage that has been coming out of Italy and other parts of the world, you can catch a glimpse of their pumps, ventilators, and in the case of this post, the fact that many institutions are using the helmets.

Why are these places using helmets instead of face masks and what does the data say?

The study I am referring to was published in JAMA in 2016 and they compared utilizing a face mask vs a helmet setup in patients with ARDS. The study was actually stopped early because the data was so good. They were trying to get to 206 patients but stopped at 83.

The authors found that patients who wore the helmet were intubated less frequently, 18.2% vs. 61.5%, had more ventilator free days, a shorter length of stay in the ICU, and lower both in-hospital mortality and 90 day mortality. Patients were also on NIV with the helmet for a shorter period of time utilizing less PEEP, less pressure support, and required a lower FiO2.

Could the helmet be a tool to help out to minimize the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation? Does anyone here have experience with the helmet setup? This study was created in Chicago, I’m sure there’s has to be someone around here who was at that institution while this study was being performed.


Patel BK, Wolfe KS, Pohlman AS, Hall JB, Kress JP. Effect of Noninvasive Ventilation Delivered by Helmet vs Face Mask on the Rate of Endotracheal Intubation in Patients With Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2016;315(22):2435–2441. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.6338

Link to Article


Link to PDF (Backup)

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