Validity of the ROX index in predicting invasive mechanical ventilation requirement in pneumonia

BMJ Open Respir Res. 2022 Sep;9(1):e001320. doi: 10.1136/bmjresp-2022-001320.


Background: The ROX index (Respiratory rate-OXygenation) has been described as a prediction tool to identify the need for invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) with acute hypoxaemic respiratory failure treated with high-flow nasal cannula in order to avoid delay of a necessary intubation. However, its use in predicting the need for ventilatory support in hospitalised patients with CAP has not been validated.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study including subjects with CAP treated in the general ward, emergency service or intensive care unit of a third-level centre in Cundinamarca, Colombia, between January 2001 and February 2020. The ROX index was estimated as the ratio of oxygen saturation/fraction of inspired oxygen to respiratory rate.

Results: A total of 895 patients were included, of whom 93 (10%) required IMV. The ROX index proved to be a good predictor, presenting an area under the curve of receiver operating characteristics (AUROC) of 0.733 (95% CI 0.671 to 0.795, p<0.001) when determined by pulse oximetry and an AUROC of 0.779 (95% CI 0.699 to 0.859, p<0.001) when estimated by arterial blood gas (ABG) parameters, with an intraclass correlation of 0.894. The estimated cut-off point was 14.8; a score less than 14.8 indicates high risk of requiring IMV.

Conclusion: The ROX index is a good predictor of IMV in hospitalised patients with CAP. It presents good performance when calculated through pulse oximetry and can replace the one calculated by ABG.

Keywords: bacterial infection; pneumonia; respiratory infection.

MeSH terms

  • Community-Acquired Infections* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia* / therapy
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Insufficiency* / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies