Use of high-flow nasal oxygen (HFNO) for treatment of adults with acute respiratory failure (ARF) has increased.
To assess HFNO versus noninvasive ventilation (NIV) or conventional oxygen therapy (COT) for ARF in hospitalized adults.
English-language searches of MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library from January 2000 to July 2020; systematic review reference lists.
29 randomized controlled trials evaluated HFNO versus NIV (k = 11) or COT (k = 21).
Data extraction by a single investigator was verified by a second, 2 investigators assessed risk of bias, and evidence certainty was determined by consensus.
Results are reported separately for HFNO versus NIV, for HFNO versus COT, and by initial or postextubation management. Compared with NIV, HFNO may reduce all-cause mortality, intubation, and hospital-acquired pneumonia and improve patient comfort in initial ARF management (low-certainty evidence) but not in postextubation management. Compared with COT, HFNO may reduce reintubation and improve patient comfort in postextubation ARF management (low-certainty evidence).
Trials varied in populations enrolled, ARF causes, and treatment protocols. Trial design, sample size, duration of treatment and follow-up, and results reporting were often insufficient to adequately assess many outcomes. Protocols, clinician and health system training, cost, and resource use were poorly characterized.
Compared with NIV, HFNO as initial ARF management may improve several clinical outcomes. Compared with COT, HFNO as postextubation management may reduce reintubations and improve patient comfort; HFNO resulted in fewer harms than NIV or COT. Broad applicability, including required clinician and health system experience and resource use, is not well known.