Effect of Postextubation High-Flow Nasal Cannula vs Conventional Oxygen Therapy on Reintubation in Low-Risk Patients: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA. 2016 Apr 5;315(13):1354-61. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.2711.


Importance: Studies of mechanically ventilated critically ill patients that combine populations that are at high and low risk for reintubation suggest that conditioned high-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy after extubation improves oxygenation compared with conventional oxygen therapy. However, conclusive data about reintubation are lacking.

Objective: To determine whether high-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy is superior to conventional oxygen therapy for preventing reintubation in mechanically ventilated patients at low risk for reintubation.

Design, setting, and participants: Multicenter randomized clinical trial conducted between September 2012 and October 2014 in 7 intensive care units (ICUs) in Spain. Participants were 527 adult critical patients at low risk for reintubation who fulfilled criteria for planned extubation. Low risk for reintubation was defined as younger than 65 years; Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score less than 12 on day of extubation; body mass index less than 30; adequate secretions management; simple weaning; 0 or 1 comorbidity; and absence of heart failure, moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, airway patency problems, and prolonged mechanical ventilation.

Interventions: Patients were randomized to undergo either high-flow or conventional oxygen therapy for 24 hours after extubation.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was reintubation within 72 hours, compared with the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel χ2 test. Secondary outcomes included postextubation respiratory failure, respiratory infection, sepsis and multiorgan failure, ICU and hospital length of stay and mortality, adverse events, and time to reintubation.

Results: Of 527 patients (mean age, 51 years [range, 18-64]; 62% men), 264 received high-flow therapy and 263 conventional oxygen therapy. Reintubation within 72 hours was less common in the high-flow group (13 patients [4.9%] vs 32 [12.2%] in the conventional group; absolute difference, 7.2% [95% CI, 2.5% to 12.2%]; P = .004). Postextubation respiratory failure was less common in the high-flow group (22/264 patients [8.3%] vs 38/263 [14.4%] in the conventional group; absolute difference, 6.1% [95% CI, 0.7% to 11.6%]; P = .03). Time to reintubation was not significantly different between groups (19 hours [interquartile range, 12-28] in the high-flow group vs 15 hours [interquartile range, 9-31] in the conventional group; absolute difference, -4 [95% CI, -54 to 46]; P = .66]. No adverse effects were reported.

Conclusions and relevance: Among extubated patients at low risk for reintubation, the use of high-flow nasal cannula oxygen compared with conventional oxygen therapy reduced the risk of reintubation within 72 hours.

Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01191489.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Airway Extubation* / adverse effects
  • Body Mass Index
  • Critical Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intubation, Intratracheal* / adverse effects
  • Intubation, Intratracheal* / statistics & numerical data
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Organ Failure / etiology
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Retreatment
  • Time Factors
  • Ventilator Weaning

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01191489