Introduction: We conducted a meta-analysis of trials that compared efficacy and safety of high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as primary respiratory support in preterm infants and a study of the impact of clinical relevant parameters.
Methods: Databases were searched for randomised controlled trials comparing HFNC with CPAP as primary respiratory support in preterm infants. Treatment failure was considered as primary outcome and adverse events as secondary outcomes. We calculated risk ratios (RRs) in intention-to-treat analysis and random-effects meta-analyses of risks were conducted.
Results: We included 10 studies for a total of 1830 patients. Meta-analysis demonstrated an RR of treatment failure multiplied by 1.34 using HFNC compared with CPAP (RR=1.34, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.68, I2=16.2%). Secondary outcome meta-analysis showed no difference in intubation rates (RR=0.90, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.15) and a lower rate of nasal trauma using HFNC compared with CPAP (RR=0.48, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.65, I²=0.0%). Meta-regressions did not show any influence of gestational age and weight at birth, HFNC flow rate, type of CPAP generator or use of surfactant.
Conclusions: Despite a higher risk of treatment failure, considering no difference in intubation rates and a lower rate of nasal trauma using HFNC compared with CPAP, we suggest that HFNC should be used as primary respiratory support in preterm infants.