What Is the Difference Between CPAP and BiPAP?


Quick Answer

CPAP provides constant air pressure at the airway during spontaneous breathing, while BiPAP uses two pressure settings, one for inspiration and the other for expiration. The pressure difference created by BiPAP helps increase tidal volume and reduces the work of breathing, explains Cleveland Clinic.

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Full Answer

Both CPAP and BiPAP are used for noninvasive positive pressure support. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, and is commonly used to treat sleep apnea by keeping the airway open with positive pressure. CPAP is also used in infants with underdeveloped lungs, explains the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

BiPAP stands for bilevel positive airway pressure, explains Medscape. It is commonly used in patients with acute respiratory failure caused by COPD exacerbation, and cardiogenic pulmonary edema. It is also frequently used in chronic sleep apnea, disordered breathing associated with heart failure, severe stable COPD, neuromuscular disease that affect breathing, and restrictive lung disease, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Before CPAP and BiPAP, traditional noninvasive ventilation involved the use of negative pressure with devices like the cuirass and the iron lung. Modern noninvasive ventilation has advanced to become an important treatment modality for patients in the hospital and outpatient setting. CPAP and BiPAP are commonly used as alternatives to intubation, which allows patients to preserve their normal physiologic functions, explains Cleveland Clinic.

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