The aim of this study was to assess if continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) delivered by an infant flow driver (IFD) was a more effective method of improving lung function than delivering CPAP by a single nasal prong. A total of 36 infants (median gestational age 29 weeks, range 25-35 weeks) were studied, 12 who received CPAP via an IFD, 12 who received CPAP via a single nasal prong and 12 without CPAP. CPAP was administered post extubation if apnoeas and bradycardias or a respiratory acidosis developed or electively if the infant was of birth weight <1.0 kg. Lung function was assessed by the supplementary oxygen requirement and measurement of compliance of the respiratory system using an occlusion technique. Assessments were made immediately prior to and after 24 h of CPAP administration and at similar postnatal ages in the non-CPAP group. The infants who did not require CPAP had better lung function (non significant) than the other two groups before they received CPAP. After 24 h, lung function had improved in both CPAP groups to the level of the non CPAP infants. The supplementary oxygen requirements of all three groups decreased over the 24 h period, but this only reached significance in the single nasal prong group (P<0.05). Four infants supported by the IFD, but none with a single nasal prong, became hyperoxic.
Conclusion: Continuous positive airways pressure administration via the infant flow driver appears to offer no short-term advantage over a single nasal prong system when used after extubation in preterm infants.