In the Literature

High-Flow Oxygen after Extubation Reduces Reintubation

Clinical question: Does nasal high-flow (NHF) oxygen after extubation reduce reintubation rates in low-risk patients?

Background: NHF oxygen devices deliver warmed and humidified oxygen up to 60 liters per minutes. NHF provides positive end-expiratory pressure and dead-space washout. NHF in higher-risk post-extubation patients has been shown to have clinical benefits. Whether NHF post-extubation benefits patients at low risk of reintubation is unknown.

Study design: Randomized control trial (RCT).

Setting: Seven ICUs in Spain.

Synopsis: In this RCT, post-extubation NHF oxygen for 24 hours reduced the risk of reintubation among 527 ICU adults at low risk of reintubation when compared to conventional oxygen therapy (by nasal cannula or face mask). Patients with hypercapnia during weaning trials were excluded. The risk of reintubation was 4.9% versus 12.2% in NHF versus standard oxygen therapy, with an absolute difference of 7.2% (95% CI, 2.5–12.2%; P=0.004). ICU length of stay and mortality were not significantly different between the groups. The strengths of the study were adequate sample size, prespecified criteria for reintubation, and low number of crossover patients.

Limitations of the trial were the high percentage of surgical and neurologic cases, exclusion of patients with a variety of common comorbidities, and the inability to blind the physicians to the treatment arm of the subjects. Select patients may benefit from noninvasive ventilation to prevent reintubation, which was not studied. These results are highly relevant to post-extubation patients, with the optimum therapy for low-risk patients now appearing to be NHF.

Bottom line: NHF oxygen reduced reintubation compared to conventional oxygen therapy (nasal cannula or face mask) in extubated patients at low risk of reintubation.

Citation: Hernández G, Vaquero C, González P, et al. Effect of postextubation high-flow nasal cannula vs conventional oxygen therapy on reintubation in low-risk patients: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2016;315(13):1354-1361. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2711.

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