High flow nasal cannula for continuous positive airway pressure weaning in preterm neonates: A single-centre experience


  • Arun Sasi,

    1. Monash Newborn, Monash Children's, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Atul Malhotra

    Corresponding author
    1. Monash Newborn, Monash Children's, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Department of Paediatrics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Atul Malhotra, Monash Newborn, Monash Medical Centre, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, Melbourne, Vic. 3168, Australia. Fax: +61 3 9594 6115; email: atul.malhotra@monash.edu

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  • Conflict of interest: The authors declare no competing interests. This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.



High flow nasal cannula therapy (HFNC) is an emerging method of non-invasive respiratory support therapy for premature infants. Recent evidence around its safety and efficacy for post-extubation respiratory support is encouraging. However, its effect on long-term respiratory outcomes is not known. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of HFNC on respiratory outcomes (chronic lung disease (CLD), need for home oxygen) when used to wean babies from continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).


This retrospective study compared respiratory outcomes in infants born <32 weeks gestation needing any respiratory support at birth in two epochs – epoch I (2004–2007) verus epoch II (2008–2011). HFNC was available to be used as a CPAP weaning modality in epoch II.


A total of 1286 infants (epoch I: 597 vs. epoch II: 689), mean (standard deviation) gestation, 28.1 (2.2) versus 28.5 (2.3) weeks were enrolled, with 222 (32%) receiving HFNC in epoch II. Overall median duration of respiratory support increased by 150 h in epoch II (P = 0.03), primarily as HFNC hours. A reduction in duration of invasive ventilation and CPAP along with 6% (P = 0.01) reduction in CLD rates was observed in epoch II. No change in home oxygen therapy rates was noted. In logistic regression, HFNC had no significant effect on rates of CLD or home oxygen.


Introduction of HFNC for weaning nasal CPAP seems to have a minimal effect on CLD rates. The effect of HFNC on long-term outcomes needs to be further evaluated.