European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 172, Issue 12, pp 1649–1656 | Cite as

High-flow nasal cannula oxygen for bronchiolitis in a pediatric ward: a pilot study

  • Silvia BressanEmail author
  • Marco Balzani
  • Baruch Krauss
  • Andrea Pettenazzo
  • Stefania Zanconato
  • Eugenio Baraldi
Original Article


High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) is a widely used ventilatory support in children with bronchiolitis in the intensive care setting. No data is available on HFNC use in the general pediatric ward. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of HFNC oxygen therapy in infants hospitalized in a pediatric ward for moderate–severe bronchiolitis and to assess the changes in ventilatory parameters before and after starting HFNC support. This prospective observational pilot study was carried out during the bronchiolitis season 2011–2012 in a pediatric tertiary care academic center in Italy. Interruptions of HFNC therapy and possible side effects or escalation to other forms of respiratory support were recorded. Oxygen saturation (SpO2), end-tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2), and respiratory rate (RR), measured for a baseline period of 1 h before and at specific time intervals in 48 h after the start of HFNC were recorded. Twenty-seven infants were included (median age 1.3 months; absolute range 0.3–8.5). No adverse events, no premature HFNC therapy termination, and no escalation to other forms of respiratory support were recorded. Median SpO2 significantly increased by 1–2 points after changing from standard oxygen to HFNC (p <0.001). Median ETCO2 and RR rapidly decreased by 6–8 mmHg and 13–20 breaths per minute, respectively, in the first 3 h of HFNC therapy (p <0.001) and remained steady thereafter. Conclusions: Use of HFNC for oxygen administration is feasible for infants with moderate–severe bronchiolitis in a general pediatric ward. In these children, HFNC therapy improves oxygen saturation levels and seems to be associated with a decrease in both ETCO2 and RR.


Bronchiolitis Oxygen inhalation therapy Children Carbon dioxide 



End-tidal carbon dioxide


Fraction of inspired oxygen


High-flow nasal cannula


Heart rate


Pediatric intensive care unit


Respiratory rate


Respiratory sincitial virus


Oxygen saturation



The authors thank Dr. Silvia Carraro for her assistance with the statistical analysis and Dr. Lisanna Tomasi and Dr. Laura Cesca for their contribution in recruiting patients and data collection. The authors also thank the head nurses Ms. Francesca Selmin and Ms. Mariella Rubin and all the nurses for their precious support with the research project.

Conflict of interest

Dr. Krauss is a consultant for Oridion Medical, a capnography company, and holds three patents in the area of capnography. The other authors have no conflicts of interest or funding to disclose. The authors have not received any financial support, salary, or other personal benefits by Fisher & Paykel Healthcare for the present study and do not hold stock in the company.

Source of funding



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Bressan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marco Balzani
    • 1
  • Baruch Krauss
    • 2
  • Andrea Pettenazzo
    • 1
  • Stefania Zanconato
    • 1
  • Eugenio Baraldi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Women’s and Children’s HealthUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly
  2. 2.Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital and the Department of PediatricsHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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