The Relationship between High Flow Nasal Cannula Flow Rate and Effort of Breathing in Children
To use an objective metric of effort of breathing to determine optimal high flow nasal cannula (HFNC) flow rates in children <3 years of age.Study design
Single-center prospective trial in a 24-bed pediatric intensive care unit of children <3 years of age on HFNC. We measured the percent change in pressure•rate product (PRP) (an objective measure of effort of breathing) as a function of weight-indexed flow rates of 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 L/kg/minute. For a subgroup of patients, 2 different HFNC delivery systems (Fisher & Paykel [Auckland, New Zealand] and Vapotherm [Exeter, New Hampshire]) were compared.Results
Twenty-one patients (49 titration episodes) were studied. The most common diagnoses were bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Overall, there was a significant difference in the percent change in PRP from baseline (of 0.5 L/kg/minute) with increasing flow rates for the entire cohort (P < .001) with largest change at 2.0 L/kg/min (−21%). Subgroup analyses showed no significant difference in percent change in PRP from baseline when comparing the 2 different HFNC delivery systems (P = .12). Patients ≤8 kg experienced a larger percent change in PRP as HFNC flow rates were increased (P = .001) than patients >8 kg.Conclusions
The optimal HFNC flow rate to reduce effort of breathing in infants and young children is approximately 1.5–2.0 L/kg/minute with more benefit seen in children ≤8 kg.