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J Paediatr Child Health. 2014 May;50(5):373-8. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12509. Epub 2014 Feb 25.

High-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy for infants with bronchiolitis: pilot study.

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Paediatric Critical Care Research Group, PICU, Mater Children's Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



To obtain data on the safety and clinical impact of managing infants with bronchiolitis on the ward with high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) treatment.


A prospective pilot study was conducted of 61 infants aged <12 months with bronchiolitis and oxygen requirement presenting to the emergency department. HFNC was commenced at 2 L/kg/min, and fraction of inspired oxygen was titrated to oxygen saturation > 94%. A standard-treatment group (n = 33) managed with standard low-flow subnasal oxygen during the same time period was retrospectively identified.


Admission demographics, heart rate (HR) and respiratory rate (RR) were similar in test and standard-treatment groups. Responders and non-responders to HFNC were identified within 60 min of treatment. Non-responders to HFNC requiring paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission showed no change in HR and RR, whereas responders showed decreases in HR and RR (P < 0.02). Patients receiving HFNC were four times less likely to need PICU admission than the standard treatment group (OR 4.086, 95%CI 1.0-8.2; P = 0.043). No adverse events such as pneumothorax, bradycardia, bradypnoea, emergency intubation or cardiopulmonary resuscitation were observed. No patients admitted to the PICU required intubation.


HFNC treatment in the paediatric ward is safe. Non-responders requiring PICU admission can be identified within the first hour of HFNC treatment by monitoring HR and RR. It is feasible to undertake a randomised controlled trial based on this pilot with the aim of decreasing PICU admissions.


bronchiolitis; high-flow nasal cannula; infant

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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