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BiPAP

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Updated December 03, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: BiPAP, or bi-level positive airway pressure, is a type of noninvasive ventilation that helps keep the upper airways of the lungs open by providing a flow of air delivered through a face mask. The air is pressurized by a machine, which delivers it to the face mask through long, plastic hosing.

With BiPaP, the doctor prescribes specific pressures that alternate: A higher pressure is used to breathe in (called inspiratory positive airway pressure, or IPAP) and a lower pressure is used when breathing out (called expiratory positive airway pressure, or EPAP).

For COPD patients, BiPaP is the preferred method of treatment over CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) because it's easier for these patients to exhale against lower pressure.

Also Known As: Bi-level positive airway pressure
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