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Anaesth Intensive Care. 2004 Oct;32(5):670-1.

Nasopharyngeal oxygen in adult intensive care--lower flows and increased comfort.

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  • 1Epworth Hospital Intensive Care Unit, Richmond, Victoria.


Nasopharyngeal oxygen therapy, the delivery of supplementary oxygen into the nasopharynx via a fine catheter placed through the nose, is a simple technique used in postoperative anaesthetic care units and paediatric intensive care, but never described in the setting of adult intensive care. In a prospective crossover design, we compared nasopharyngeal oxygen therapy with semi-rigid plastic mask (Hudson Mask) in 50 unintubated adult patients receiving supplemental oxygen. We measured oxygen flow rate to achieve cutaneous saturations 93 to 96%, and patient comfort by visual analogue score. Nasopharyngeal oxygen therapy consumed significantly less oxygen than mask administration (3.0+/-0.9 vs 6.7+/-2.1 l/min, P<0.001) and was associated with significantly higher comfort than the mask (7.5+/-1.6 cm vs 5.2+/-1.8, P<0.001).

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