Comparison of High-Flow Nasal Cannula and Noninvasive Ventilation in Acute Hypoxemic Respiratory Failure Due to Severe COVID-19 Pneumonia

Link to article at PubMed

Respir Care. 2021 Sep 28:respcare.09130. doi: 10.4187/respcare.09130. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Efficacy of high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) over noninvasive ventilation (NIV) in severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia is not known. We aimed to assess the incidence of invasive mechanical ventilation in patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure due to COVID-19 treated with either HFNC or NIV.

METHODS: This was a single-center randomized controlled trial performed in the COVID-19 ICU of a tertiary care teaching hospital in New Delhi, India. One hundred and nine subjects with severe COVID-19 pneumonia presenting with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure were recruited and allocated to either HFNC (n = 55) or NIV (n = 54) arm. Primary outcome was intubation by 48 h. Secondary outcomes were improvement in oxygenation by 48 h, intubation rate at day 7, and in-hospital mortality.

RESULTS: Baseline characteristics and PaO2 /FIO2 ratio were similar in both the groups. Intubation rate at 48 h was similar between the groups (33% NIV vs 20% HFNC, relative risk 0.6, 95% CI 0.31-1.15, P = .12). Intubation rate at day 7 was lower in the HFNC (27.27%) compared to the NIV group (46.29%) (relative risk 0.59, 95% CI 0.35-0.99, P = .045), and this difference remained significant after adjustment for the incidence of chronic kidney disease and the arterial pH (adjusted OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.17-0.93, P = .03). Hospital mortality was similar between HFNC (29.1%) and NIV (46.2%) group (relative risk 0.6, 95% CI 0.38-1.04, P = .06).

CONCLUSIONS: We were not able to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement of oxygenation parameters nor of the intubation rate at 48 h between NIV and HFNC. These findings should be further tested in a larger randomized controlled trial.The study was registered at the Clinical Trials Registry of India (; reference number: CTRI/2020/07/026835) on July 27, 2020.

PMID:34584010 | DOI:10.4187/respcare.09130

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