Do newborn infants exhale through the CPAP system? Secondary analysis of a randomised cross-over trial

Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2022 Oct 19;fetalneonatal-2022-324462. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2022-324462. Online ahead of print.


Background: During nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP) treatment in neonates, leakage is inevitable and can lead to reduced distending pressure in the lungs of the infant. In current practice, neither leakage nor expiratory flow is measured, which makes it difficult to assess if exhalation is through the device or entirely through leakages.

Objective: To examine if infants treated with nCPAP exhale through the CPAP system.

Design and setting: Secondary data analyses from the ToNIL trial on leakages during nCPAP treatment. We retrospectively examined respiratory curves for the 50 infants included in the trial, using NI LabVIEW 2015. Each infant was measured with both prongs and nasal masks. A flow recording was classified as exhalation through the system if more than 50% of all expirations showed reverse flow, each for a minimum duration of 0.1 s.

Patients: 50 infants were included, born with a mean gestational age (GA) of 34 weeks, median birth weight of 1948 g and mean age at measurement 6.5 days. Inclusion criteria were CPAP treatment and a postmenstrual age (PMA) of 28-42 weeks.

Results: In our measurements, 32/50 infants exhaled through the CPAP system in at least one recording with either nasal mask or prongs. Leakages exceeding 0.3 L/min were seen in 97/100 recordings.

Conclusions: During nCPAP treatment, infants can exhale through the CPAP system and leakage was common. Measuring expiratory flows and leakages in clinical settings could be valuable in optimising CPAP treatment of infants.

Trial registration number: NCT03586856.

Keywords: Intensive Care Units, Neonatal; Neonatology.

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