High-flow nasal cannula utilization in pediatric critical care

Kristen D. Coletti, Dayanand N. Bagdure, Linda K. Walker, Kenneth E. Remy, Jason W. Custer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) is increasingly utilized in pediatrics, delivering humidified air and oxygen for respiratory conditions causing hypoxia and distress. In the neonatal ICU, it has been associated with better tolerance, lower complications, and lower cost. Few data exist regarding indications for use and the epidemiology of disease/pathology that warrants HFNC in the pediatric ICU. METHODS: This study is a retrospective cohort study of patients admitted to a tertiary children’s hospital pediatric ICU and placed on HFNC from October 1, 2011 to October 31, 2013. Descriptive statistics were used to describe demographics and utilization data. t test comparisons were used for comparison data. RESULTS: Over the enrollment study period, 620 subjects with HFNC were managed, which represented 27% of total ICU admissions. The average age was 3.74 y (range 0–18.1 y), and subjects were 44% female and 65% African American. Reported primary indications for the utilization of HFNC were status asthmaticus (24%), status asthmaticus with pneumonia (17%), and bronchiolitis (16%). Of the subjects admitted with a primary diagnosis of status asthmaticus, 41% required management with terbutaline. Respiratory viral infections were detected by polymerase chain reaction in 334 subjects managed with HFNC (53.8%) and included 260 subjects testing positive for rhinovirus/enterovirus. When compared with all other respiratory viral illness, subjects with rhinovirus/enterovirus required a higher peak flow (14.9 L vs 13.1 L, P =.01); however, this was an older population, and peak oxygen concentration did not differ between the 2 groups (49.8% vs 47.1%, P =.25). HFNC was used as postextubation support in 16% of the subjects. Of the 63 subjects with congenital heart disease, 92% of the utilization was postextubation. CONCLUSIONS: HFNC was utilized in 27% of all pediatric ICU admissions for a wide range of indications. Development of protocols for the initiation, escalation, and weaning of HFNC would optimize the utilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1029
Number of pages7
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Bronchiolitis
  • High-flow nasal cannula
  • Pediatric
  • Pediatric ICU
  • Status asthmaticus


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