Nasal High Flow Therapy for Bronchiolitis

J Paediatr Child Health. 2024 May 22. doi: 10.1111/jpc.16557. Online ahead of print.


Aim: Uptake of nasal high-flow therapy in infants with bronchiolitis has grown in the last decade with some evidence suggesting a reduction in escalation of care. The effect of the implementation of recent available evidence on clinical practice remains unclear.

Methods: In a prospective observational study over 6 months in six metropolitan hospitals in Australia, we investigated the clinical practice of high-flow in infants admitted with bronchiolitis and an oxygen requirement. To assess the choice by clinicians of the initial oxygen therapy (standard oxygen or high-flow) the disease severity was measured by physiological parameters obtained prior to oxygen therapy commencement. Additional secondary outcomes were hospital length of stay and transfers to intensive care.

Results: Two hundred thirty-five infants with bronchiolitis were admitted for oxygen therapy over 6 months during the winter season. Infants who received high-flow on admission to hospital displayed significantly higher respiratory rates, higher heart rates and higher early warning tool scores with more severe work of breathing than those commenced on standard oxygen therapy as a first line of oxygen therapy. A significantly longer hospital length of stay of 0.6 days occurred in infants commenced on high-flow. A significantly greater proportion on high-flow (23.3%) were admitted to intensive care compared to infants commenced on SOT (10.4%) despite the severity of disease in both groups being similar.

Conclusions: Infants with bronchiolitis presenting with greater disease severity are more likely to receive high-flow therapy. Escalation of care in an intensive care unit occurred more frequently on infants on high-flow.

Trial registration: This trial is registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry ACTRN12618001206213.

Keywords: bronchiolitis; oxygen therapy; paediatrics.