Neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (NAVA) in pediatric intensive care--a randomized controlled trial

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2015 Jan;50(1):55-62. doi: 10.1002/ppul.22995. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


Background: Neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (NAVA) has been shown to improve patient-ventilator synchrony during invasive ventilation. The aim of this trial was to study NAVA as a primary ventilation mode in pediatric intensive care and to compare it with current standard ventilation modes.

Methods: One hundred seventy pediatric intensive care patients were randomized to conventional ventilation or NAVA. The primary endpoints were time on the ventilator and the amount of sedation needed. To enable comparison between sedative agents, a "sedative unit" was defined for each drug.

Results: The median time on the ventilator was 3.3 hr in the NAVA group and 6.6 hr in the control group (P = 0.17), and the length of stay in the PICU 49.5 hr in the NAVA group and 72.8 hr in the control group (P = 0.10, per protocol P = 0.03). The amount of sedation needed in the total patient population did not differ between the groups (P = 0.20), but when postoperative patients were excluded (19 vs. 20 patients), the amount was significantly lower in the NAVA group (0.80 vs. 2.23 units/hr, P = 0.03). Lower peak inspiratory pressure and a lower inspired oxygen fraction were found in the NAVA group (P = 0.001 for both). Arterial blood CO2 tensions were slightly higher in the NAVA group up to 32 hr of treatment (P = 0.008). There were no significant differences in the other ventilatory or vital parameters, arterial blood gas values or complications.

Conclusions: We found NAVA to be a safe and feasible primary ventilation mode for use with children. It outscored standard ventilation in some aspects, as it was able to enhance oxygenation even at lower airway pressures and led to reduced use of sedatives during longer periods of treatment.

Keywords: electrical activity of diaphragm; mechanical ventilation; respiratory support; sedation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diaphragm / physiology*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Infant
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Interactive Ventilatory Support / methods*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Carbon Dioxide