Nasal high-frequency oscillatory ventilation (NHFOV) surpassed nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) at reducing the risk of reintubation among preterm infants, in a randomized trial of 206 preterm infants with respiratory failure.

Previous studies have supported the use of NHFOV as more effective for reducing CO2 and for lowering the risk of reintubation compared with NCPAP. But no randomized, controlled trials had compared the outcomes for preterm infants in particular, wrote Long Chen, MD, PhD, of Children’s Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China, and colleagues.

Their study, published in Chest, was conducted at a single tertiary NICU in China between May 2017 and May 2018, and randomized infants with a gestational age less than 37 weeks to NHFOV (103 infants) or NCPAP (103 infants). Infants with major congenital abnormalities were excluded. The infants included 127 (61.7%) diagnosed with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), 53 (25.7%) diagnosed with acute RDS (ARDS), and 26 (12.6%) diagnosed with both RDS and ARDS.

Overall, the reintubation rate within 6 hours was significantly lower among infants treated with NHFOV compared with those treated with NCPAP (15.5% vs. 34%, P = .002), and in the subset of infants with ARDS (23.5% vs. 52.6%, P = .032). Among infants with a gestational age of 32 weeks or less, reintuibation rates were also significantly lower among those treated with NHFOV (26.1% vs. 55.6%, P = .004).

In addition, PCO2 levels, 6 hours after extubation, were significantly lower among infants on NHFOV, compared with those on NCPAP (49.6 vs. 56.9 P = .00). The hospital stay, a secondary outcome, was significantly shorter among the infants treated with NHFOV, than those treated with NCPAP (22 days, vs. 27.6 days, P =.011).

Although the researchers observed some nasal trauma in NHFOV-treated patients, and intestinal dilation in both groups similar to side effects seen in previous studies, no feeding intolerance or skin lesions were associated with NHFOV. The study findings were consistent with those from previous studies, and suggested that the causes of respiratory failure might account for the differences between the treatment groups, they noted.

“RDS is primarily restrictive in the acute phase, and the high frequency oscillation over CPAP does not therefore bring any benefit. However, ARDS is both restrictive and obstructive in the acute phase due to the nature of ARDS,” and NHFOV is “able to improve oxygenation,” they added.

The study findings were limited by several factors including the use of data from a single center and the small number of infants younger than 28 weeks’ gestation, the researchers noted. However, they added, two international, multicenter, randomized controlled trials are in the works.

The study was supported by Social Livelihood Program of 38 Chongqing Science and Technology Commission, China. The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose.

SOURCE: Long C et al. Chest. 2019; 155(4): 740-8.