The Effectiveness of High-Flow Nasal Oxygen During the Intraoperative Period: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Anesth Analg. 2020 Oct;131(4):1102-1110. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000005073.


Background: High-flow nasal oxygen (HFNO) is increasingly being used in intensive care units for management of hypoxemia and respiratory failure. However, the effectiveness of HFNO for preventing hypoxemia in the intraoperative period is unclear. The purpose of this systematic review was to compare patient oxygenation and end-tidal CO2 (EtCO2), between HFNO and conventional oxygenation, during the intraoperative period in surgical patients.

Methods: Standard databases were searched from inception to February 2020. Studies involving intraoperative use of HFNO with 1 of the 4 outcomes: (1) oxygen (O2) desaturation, (2) minimum O2 saturation, (3) safe apnea time, or (4) EtCO2 were included. Intraoperative period was divided into 2 phases: at induction with general anesthesia and during surgical procedure under sedation without tracheal intubation.

Results: Eight randomized controlled trials (RCTs; 4 induction, 4 procedure, 2314 patients) were included for systematic review and meta-analyses. We found the risk of intraoperative O2 desaturation was lower in HFNO versus conventional oxygenation control group; at induction with an odds ratio (OR; 95% confidence interval [CI]) of 0.06 (0.01-0.59, P = .02), and during procedure, OR (95% CI) of 0.09 (0.05-0.18; P < .001). The minimum O2 saturation was higher in HFNO versus conventional oxygenation; at induction by a mean difference (MD) (95% CI) of 5.1% (3.3-6.9; P < .001), and during procedure, by a MD (95% CI) of 4.0% (1.8-6.2; P < .001). Safe apnea time at induction was longer in HFNO versus conventional oxygenation by a MD (95% CI) of 33.4 seconds (16.8-50.1; P < .001). EtCO2 at induction was not significantly different between HFNO and conventional oxygenation groups.

Conclusions: This systematic review and meta-analysis show that, in the intraoperative setting, HFNO compared to conventional oxygenation reduces the risk of O2 desaturation, increases minimum O2 saturation, and safe apnea time. HFNO should be considered for anesthesia induction and during surgical procedures under sedation without tracheal intubation in patients at higher risk of hypoxemia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Care / methods*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome