In preterm infants, nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) is widely used for treatment of respiratory distress syndrome. However, the strategies for successfully weaning infants off NCPAP are still not well defined and there remains considerable variation between the methods. The objective of this study is to determine whether gradual weaning of NCPAP pressure is more successful than sudden weaning off NCPAP to room air.STUDY DESIGN:
A randomized controlled trial was conducted in a level 3 neonatal intensive care unit on 70 preterm neonates who were born between 26 and 32 weeks gestation and required NCPAP for at least 48 h. When infants were stable on NCPAP at 0.21 FiO2 and 5 cm H2O positive end expiratory pressure, neonates were randomized to the gradual wean group (reduction in pressure by 1 cm every 8 h until 3 cm H20 was reached) or to sudden wean group (one time NCPAP removal to room air). The primary outcome was a success at the first trial to wean to room air. Secondary outcomes were a number of trials, and weight and postmenstrual age (PMA) at the time of successful wean. Total number of days on NCPAP and length of stay (LOS) in the hospital were also compared between the groups.RESULTS:
Of the 70 infants included in the study, 35 were randomized to sudden group and 33 infants to gradual group (2 excluded for protocol deviation). In sudden and gradual groups, 14 and 22 infants, respectively, were weaned successfully in the first attempt (P = 0.03). The infants were successfully weaned at 32.7 ± 1.7 weeks versus 33.1 ± 2.4 weeks (P = 0.39) PMA and at a weight of 1651 ± 290 g versus 1589 ± 398 g (P = 0.46) in the sudden and gradual groups, respectively. The total number of days on NCPAP was 27 ± 19 days versus 32 ± 24 days (P = 0.38) and LOS was 63 ± 25 days versus 63 ± 22 days (P = 0.99) in the sudden and gradual groups, respectively.CONCLUSIONS:
Gradual weaning method was more successful as compared to sudden weaning method in the initial trial off NCPAP. There was no difference in the PMA, weight at the time of successful wean, total days on NCPAP and LOS between the two groups.