Objective: To describe inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) exposure in preterm infants and variation in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) use.
Study design: This was a retrospective cohort study of infants, 22 to 33+6/7 weeks of gestational age (GA), during 2005 to 2013. Analyses were stratified by GA and included population characteristics, iNO use over time and hospital variation.
Results: Of the 65 824 infants, 1718 (2.61%) received iNO. Infants, 22 to 24+6/7 weeks of GA, had the highest incidence of iNO exposure (6.54%). Community NICUs (n=77, median hospital use rate 0.7%) used less iNO than regional NICUs (n=23, median hospital use rate 5.8%). In 22 to 24+6/7 weeks of GA infants, the median rate in regional centers was 10.6% (hospital interquartile range 3.8% to 22.6%).
Conclusion: iNO exposure varied with GA and hospital level, with the most use in extremely premature infants and regional centers. Variation reflects a lack of consensus regarding the appropriate use of iNO for preterm infants.