Strategies for the discontinuation of humidified high flow nasal cannula (HHFNC) in preterm infants

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jun 4;(6):CD011079. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011079.pub2.


Background: Humidified high flow nasal cannula (HHFNC) delivers humidified gas at increased flow rates via binasal prongs and is becoming widely accepted as a method of non-invasive respiratory support for preterm infants. While indications for the use of (HHFNC) and its associated risks and benefits are being investigated, the best strategy for the discontinuation of HHFNC remains unknown. At what point an infant is considered stable enough to attempt to start withdrawing their HHFNC is not known. The criteria for a failed attempt at HHFNC discontinuation is also unclear.

Objectives: To determine the risks and benefits of different strategies used for the discontinuation of HHFNC in preterm infants.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group Specialized Register, PubMed (1966 to March 2015), CINAHL (1982 to March 2015), EMBASE (1980 to March 2015), and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL). Also, we checked previous reviews, including cross references. We searched for following web sites for ongoing trials: and

Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs in which either individual newborn infants or clusters of infants (such as separate neonatal units) were randomised to different HHFNC withdrawal strategies (from the first time they come off HHFNC and any subsequent weaning, or withdrawal attempt, or both).

Data collection and analysis: We used standard methods of Cochrane and the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group.

Main results: We identified no eligible studies examining the best strategy to wean or withdraw HHFNC once started as respiratory support in preterm infants

Authors' conclusions: There is currently no evidence available to suggest the best strategy for weaning and withdrawing HHFNC as a respiratory support in preterm infants. Research is required into the best strategy for withdrawal of HHFNC and to which subgroups this applies. Clear criteria for the definition of stability prior to attempting to withdraw HHFNC needs to be established. Furthermore, clear definitions are needed as to what constitutes failure of HHFNC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / methods*
  • Device Removal / adverse effects
  • Device Removal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Humidifiers
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Noninvasive Ventilation / methods*
  • Ventilator Weaning / adverse effects
  • Ventilator Weaning / methods*