Background: Results from an observational study involving neonates suggested that high-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV), as compared with conventional ventilation, was associated with superior small-airway function at follow-up. Data from randomized trials are needed to confirm this finding.
Methods: We studied 319 adolescents who had been born before 29 weeks of gestation and had been enrolled in a multicenter, randomized trial that compared HFOV with conventional ventilation immediately after birth. The trial involved 797 neonates, of whom 592 survived to hospital discharge. We compared follow-up data from adolescents who had been randomly assigned to HFOV with follow-up data from those who had been randomly assigned to conventional ventilation, with respect to lung function and respiratory health, health-related quality of life, and functional status, as assessed with the use of questionnaires completed when the participants were 11 to 14 years of age. The primary outcome was forced expiratory flow at 75% of the expired vital capacity (FEF75).
Results: The HFOV group had superior results on a test of small-airway function (z score for FEF75, -0.97 with HFOV vs. -1.19 with conventional therapy; adjusted difference, 0.23 [95% confidence interval, 0.02 to 0.45]). There were significant differences in favor of HFOV in several other measures of respiratory function, including forced expiratory volume in 1 second, forced vital capacity, peak expiratory flow, diffusing capacity, and impulse-oscillometric findings. As compared with the conventional-therapy group, the HFOV group had significantly higher ratings from teachers in three of eight school subjects assessed, but there were no other significant differences in functional outcomes.
Conclusions: In a randomized trial involving children who had been born extremely prematurely, those who had undergone HFOV, as compared with those who had received conventional ventilation, had superior lung function at 11 to 14 years of age, with no evidence of poorer functional outcomes. (Funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme and others.).