Respiratory failure

Respiratory failure is a term to denote when the respiratory system fails in one or both of its gas exchange functions: oxygenation and carbon dioxide elimination. This results in arterial oxygen and/or carbon dioxide levels being unable to be maintained within their normal range. While it is not directly a radiological topic, it is useful to understand its general concepts.


It can arise from a fault in any of the components of the respiratory system, and can, therefore, involve a problem in airways (trachea-bronchi), alveoli, central nervous system (CNS), peripheral nervous system (PNS), respiratory muscles, and chest wall.


It is broadly divided into two main subtypes:

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Article information

rID: 17571
System: Chest
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Type I respiratory failure
  • Type II respiratory failure
  • Type 1 respiratory failure
  • Type 2 respiratory failure

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