High flow nasal cannula and continuous positive airway pressure therapy in treatment of viral bronchiolitis: a randomized clinical trial

Signe Vahlkvist*, Louise Jürgensen, Amalie la Cour, Simone Markoew, Thomas Houmann Petersen, Poul Erik Kofoed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has been used in infants with bronchiolitis for decades. Recently, high flow nasal cannula (HFNC) therapy was introduced. We conducted a trial of 50 children with bronchiolitis who were randomized to treatment with CPAP or HFNC. Objectives were to compare the development in respiratory rate, pCO2, and Modified Woods Clinical Asthma Score (M-WCAS) in young children with bronchiolitis, treated with CPAP or HFNC. Secondarily, to compare Neonatal Infant Pain Score (NIPS), treatment duration, treatment failure, and hospitalization length. Median age at inclusion was 2.8 (CPAP group) vs 2.1 months (HFNC group). Mean baseline pCO2 was 6.7 in both groups and mean respiratory rate was 60 vs 56 in the CPAP and HFNC group respectively. No differences were observed in development of respiratory rate, pCO2, or M-WCAS. NIPS was higher in the CPAP group. Treatment failure was scarce in both groups. No significant differences in treatment duration or length of hospitalization were observed. Conclusion: In infants and young children with bronchiolitis, HFNC may be an effective and pleasant alternative to CPAP. Larger multicenter studies are needed to further explore differences in treatment failure and treatment duration. Trial registration: www.clinicaltrial.gov. id NCT02618213, registration date December 1, 2015.What is Known:• CPAP has been used for many years for respiratory support in infant bronchiolitis. The method requires special staff skills and may be stressful to the child.• HFNC has been introduced as a newer tool.What is New:• In infants with bronchiolitis, HFNC and CPAP were comparable in decreasing respiratory rate, pCO2, and need for oxygen supply.• Pain score during therapy was lower in the HFNC group.

Original languageEnglish
Journaleuropean journal of pediatrics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)513-518
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020



  • Bronchiolitis
  • CPAP
  • HFNC
  • Infants
  • Respiratory syncytial virus

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