When is endotracheal intubation indicated in the treatment of severe asthma exacerbations?

Updated: Jan 07, 2019
  • Author: Michael J Morris, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

Despite the best efforts of the ED, some patients require endotracheal intubation. Approximately 5-10% of all hospital admissions for asthma are to an intensive care unit—for further care of already intubated patients or for close supervision of patients at very high risk of intubation. Mechanical ventilation of patients with acute asthma presents special challenges, such as the risk of high pressures lowering systemic blood pressure (auto-PEEP) and, less commonly, complications such as barotrauma, pneumothorax, or pneumomediastinum. The role of permissive hypercapnia goes beyond the scope of this article but is a ventilator strategy used in the ICU management of some patients with severe asthma exacerbations.


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