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J Pediatr. 1994 Mar;124(3):447-54.

Prospective, randomized comparison of high-frequency oscillation and conventional ventilation in candidates for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

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Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.



To compare the safety and efficacy of high-frequency oscillation (HFO) with conventional ventilation in the treatment of neonates with respiratory failure.


We conducted a multicenter, prospective, randomized trial. Patients were stratified according to pulmonary diagnosis and then were randomly selected for conventional ventilation or HFO. A balanced crossover design offered patients who met criteria of treatment failure a trial of the alternative mode of ventilation.


Four tertiary, level 3 neonatal intensive care units accepting regional referrals for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.


Neonates were eligible for enrollment if their gestational age was > 34 weeks, their birth weight was > or = 2 kg, they were < 14 days of age, they required fractional inspired oxygen > 0.50 and a mean airway pressure > 0.98 kPa (10 cm H2O) to support adequate oxygenation, and they required a peak inspiratory pressure > 2.9 kPa (30 cm H2O) and a rate > 40 breaths per minute to support adequate ventilation. Exclusion criteria were lethal congenital anomalies, profound shock, need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and failure to obtain consent.


Of 79 patients studied, 40 were assigned to conventional ventilation and 39 to HFO. Neonates randomly assigned to HFO required higher peak pressure (3.8 +/- 0.5 vs 3.3 +/- 0.8 kPa, 39 +/- 5 vs 34 +/- 8 cm H2O; p = 0.004) and more often met extracorporeal membrane oxygenation criteria (67% vs 40%; p = 0.03) at study entry than did those given conventional ventilation. Twenty-four patients (60%) assigned to conventional ventilation met treatment failure criteria compared with 17 (44%) of those assigned to HFO (not significant). Of the 24 patients in whom conventional ventilation failed, 15 (63%) responded to HFO; 4 (23%) of the 17 in whom HFO failed responded to conventional ventilation (p = 0.03). There were no differences between the two groups with respect to outcome, need for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or complications.


We conclude that HFO is a safe and effective rescue technique in the treatment of neonates with respiratory failure in whom conventional ventilation fails.

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