High-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy to treat acute respiratory failure in patients with acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Ther Adv Respir Dis. Jan-Dec 2019;13:1753466619847130. doi: 10.1177/1753466619847130.


Background: Some patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) develop acute exacerbation (AE-IPF) leading to severe acute respiratory failure (ARF); despite conventional supportive therapy, the mortality rate remains extremely high. The aim of this study was to assess how a treatment algorithm incorporating high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy affects the short-term mortality of patients with AE-IPF who develop ARF.

Method and design: A retrospective cohort analysis was conducted.

Patients and interventions: The study consisted of 17 patients with AE-IPF admitted to a respiratory intensive care unit (RICU) for ARF managed using a treatment algorithm incorporating HFNC. The outcome measure was mortality rate during their stay in the RICU.

Results: Implementation of the treatment algorithm led to a successful outcome in nine patients and to a negative one in eight patients (47.1%) who died within 39 days of being admitted to the RICU. The survival rate was 70.6% (±0.1 %) at 15 days, 52.9% (±0.1%) at 30 days, 35.3% (±0.1%) at 90 days, and 15.6% (±9.73 %) at 365 days. Overall, 4 out of 10 patients who did not respond to conventional oxygen therapy showed a satisfactory response to HFNC.

Conclusions: Short-term mortality fell to below 50% when a treatment algorithm incorporating HFNC was implemented in a group of patients with AE-IPF admitted to a RICU for ARF. Patients not responding to conventional oxygen therapy seemed to benefit from HFNC. The reviews of this paper are available via the supplementary material section.

Keywords: acute respiratory failure; high-flow nasal cannula; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; non-invasive mechanical ventilation.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms*
  • Cannula
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / complications
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / mortality
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / therapy*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / mortality
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome