2 Indications and current treatments
2.1 Acute respiratory failure is a life-threatening condition that results in abnormally low oxygen levels (hypoxia) or abnormally high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels (hypercapnia) in the blood. A particularly severe type of acute respiratory failure is acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is a disease process resulting from several conditions including sepsis, pneumonia or chest trauma.
2.2 Mechanical ventilation is the conventional treatment for acute respiratory failure. However, in some patients, hypoxia or hypercapnia cannot be adequately corrected. This is a particular problem when ventilation settings are reduced to minimise the risk of ventilator-induced lung injury. Extracorporeal CO2 removal (ECCO2R) may reduce blood CO2 levels, allowing the reduction in the ventilation settings to be maintained.