Almost all patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) eventually develop respiratory failure. Once 24 h ventilation is required, either due to incomplete effectiveness of nocturnal noninvasive ventilation (NIV) or bulbar weakness, it is common practice to recommend invasive tracheostomy ventilation; however, noninvasive daytime mouthpiece ventilation (MPV) as an addition to nocturnal mask ventilation is also an alternative.
The authors’ experience with 12 DMD patients who used 24 h NIV with mask NIV at night and MPV during daytime hours is reported.
The mean (± SD) age and vital capacity (VC) at initiation of nocturnal (only) NIV subjects were 17.8±3.5 years and 0.90±0.40 L (21% predicted), respectively; and, at the time of MPV, 19.8±3.4 years and 0.57 L (13.2% predicted), respectively. In clinical practice, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were measured using different methods: arterial blood gas analysis, transcutaneous partial pressure of CO2 and, predominantly, by end-tidal CO2. While the results suggested improved CO2 levels, these were not frequently confirmed by arterial blood gas measurement. The mean survival on 24 h NIV has been 5.7 years (range 0.17 to 12 years). Of the 12 patients, two deaths occurred after 3.75 and four years, respectively, on MPV; the remaining patients continue on 24 h NIV (range two months to 12 years; mean 5.3 years; median 3.5 years).
Twenty-four hour NIV should be considered a safe alternative for patients with DMD because its use may obviate the need for tracheostomy in patients with chronic respiratory failure requiring more than nocturnal ventilation alone.