Update on clinical trials in home mechanical ventilation

Luke E. Hodgson, Patrick B. Murphy


Home mechanical ventilation (HMV) is an increasingly common intervention and is initiated for a range of pathological processes, including neuromuscular disease (NMD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and obesity related respiratory failure. There have been important recent data published in this area, which helps to guide practice by indicating which populations may benefit from this intervention and the optimum method of setting up and controlling sleep disordered breathing. Recent superficially conflicting data has been published regarding HMV in COPD, with a trial in post-exacerbation patients suggesting no benefit, but in stable chronic hypercapnic patients suggesting a clear and sustained mortality benefit. The two studies are critiqued and the potential reasons for the differing results are discussed. Early and small trial data is frequently contradicted with larger randomised controlled trials and this has been the case with diaphragm pacing being shown to be potentially harmful in the latest data, confirming the importance of non-invasive ventilation (NIV) in NMD such as motor neurone disease. Advances in ventilator technology have so far appeared quicker than the clinical data to support their use; although small and often unblinded, the current data suggests equivalence to standard modes of NIV, but with potential comfort benefits that may enhance adherence. The indications for NIV have expanded since its inception, with an effort to treat sleep disordered breathing as a result of chronic heart failure (HF). The SERVE-HF trial has recently demonstrated no clear advantage to this technology and furthermore detected a potentially deleterious effect, with a worsening of all cause and cardiovascular mortality in the treated group compared to controls. The review serves to provide the reader with a critical review of recent advances in the field of sleep disordered breathing and HMV.