Background: Nasal high flow delivered at flow rates higher than 60 L/min in patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure might be associated with improved physiological effects. However, poor comfort might limit feasibility of its clinical use. Methods: We performed a prospective randomized cross-over physiological study on 12 ICU patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. Patients underwent three steps at the following gas flow: 0.5 L/kg PBW/min, 1 L/kg PBW/min, and 1.5 L/kg PBW/min in random order for 20 min. Temperature and FiO2 remained unchanged. Toward the end of each phase, we collected arterial blood gases, lung volumes, and regional distribution of ventilation assessed by electrical impedance tomography (EIT), and comfort. Results: In five patients, the etiology was pulmonary; infective disease characterized seven patients; median PaO2/FiO2 at enrollment was 213 [IQR 136–232]. The range of flow rate during NHF 1.5 was 75–120 L/min. PaO2/FiO2 increased with flow, albeit non significantly (p = 0.064), PaCO2 and arterial pH remained stable (p = 0.108 and p = 0.105). Respiratory rate decreased at higher flow rates (p = 0.014). Inhomogeneity of ventilation decreased significantly at higher flows (p = 0.004) and lung volume at end-expiration significantly increased (p = 0.007), but mostly in the non-dependent regions. Comfort was significantly poorer during the step performed at the highest flow (p < 0.001). Conclusions: NHF delivered at rates higher than 60 L/min in critically ill patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure is associated with reduced respiratory rate, increased lung homogeneity, and additional positive pressure effect, but also with worse comfort.
- Acute hypoxemic respiratory failure
- Nasal high flow
- Patient self-inflicted lung injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine