Objective: To compare the safety and efficacy of high-frequency oscillation (HFO) with conventional ventilation in the treatment of neonates with respiratory failure.
Design: We conducted a multicenter, prospective, randomized trial. Patients were stratified according to pulmonary diagnosis and then were randomly selected for conventional ventilation or HFO. A balanced crossover design offered patients who met criteria of treatment failure a trial of the alternative mode of ventilation.
Setting: Four tertiary, level 3 neonatal intensive care units accepting regional referrals for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
Patients: Neonates were eligible for enrollment if their gestational age was > 34 weeks, their birth weight was > or = 2 kg, they were < 14 days of age, they required fractional inspired oxygen > 0.50 and a mean airway pressure > 0.98 kPa (10 cm H2O) to support adequate oxygenation, and they required a peak inspiratory pressure > 2.9 kPa (30 cm H2O) and a rate > 40 breaths per minute to support adequate ventilation. Exclusion criteria were lethal congenital anomalies, profound shock, need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and failure to obtain consent.
Main results: Of 79 patients studied, 40 were assigned to conventional ventilation and 39 to HFO. Neonates randomly assigned to HFO required higher peak pressure (3.8 +/- 0.5 vs 3.3 +/- 0.8 kPa, 39 +/- 5 vs 34 +/- 8 cm H2O; p = 0.004) and more often met extracorporeal membrane oxygenation criteria (67% vs 40%; p = 0.03) at study entry than did those given conventional ventilation. Twenty-four patients (60%) assigned to conventional ventilation met treatment failure criteria compared with 17 (44%) of those assigned to HFO (not significant). Of the 24 patients in whom conventional ventilation failed, 15 (63%) responded to HFO; 4 (23%) of the 17 in whom HFO failed responded to conventional ventilation (p = 0.03). There were no differences between the two groups with respect to outcome, need for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or complications.
Conclusions: We conclude that HFO is a safe and effective rescue technique in the treatment of neonates with respiratory failure in whom conventional ventilation fails.