Physiological effects of high-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy after extubation: a randomized crossover study

Roque Basoalto, L. Felipe Damiani, Yorschua Jalil, María Consuelo Bachmann, Vanessa Oviedo, Leyla Alegría, Emilio Daniel Valenzuela, Maximiliano Rovegno, Pablo Ruiz-Rudolph, Rodrigo Cornejo, Jaime Retamal, Guillermo Bugedo, Arnaud W. Thille, Alejandro Bruhn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Prophylactic high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy can decrease the risk of extubation failure. It is frequently used in the postextubation phase alone or in combination with noninvasive ventilation. However, its physiological effects in this setting have not been thoroughly investigated. The aim of this study was to determine comprehensively the effects of HFNC applied after extubation on respiratory effort, diaphragm activity, gas exchange, ventilation distribution, and cardiovascular biomarkers. Methods: This was a prospective randomized crossover physiological study in critically ill patients comparing 1 h of HFNC versus 1 h of standard oxygen after extubation. The main inclusion criteria were mechanical ventilation for at least 48 h due to acute respiratory failure, and extubation after a successful spontaneous breathing trial (SBT). We measured respiratory effort through esophageal/transdiaphragmatic pressures, and diaphragm electrical activity (ΔEAdi). Lung volumes and ventilation distribution were estimated by electrical impedance tomography. Arterial and central venous blood gases were analyzed, as well as cardiac stress biomarkers. Results: We enrolled 22 patients (age 59 ± 17 years; 9 women) who had been intubated for 8 ± 6 days before extubation. Respiratory effort was significantly lower with HFNC than with standard oxygen therapy, as evidenced by esophageal pressure swings (5.3 [4.2–7.1] vs. 7.2 [5.6–10.3] cmH2O; p < 0.001), pressure–time product (85 [67–140] vs. 156 [114–238] cmH2O*s/min; p < 0.001) and ΔEAdi (10 [7–13] vs. 14 [9–16] µV; p = 0.022). In addition, HFNC induced increases in end-expiratory lung volume and PaO2/FiO2 ratio, decreases in respiratory rate and ventilatory ratio, while no changes were observed in systemic hemodynamics, Troponin T, or in amino-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide. Conclusions: Prophylactic application of HFNC after extubation provides substantial respiratory support and unloads respiratory muscles. Trial registration January 15, 2021. NCT04711759.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Intensive Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, La Société de Réanimation de Langue Francaise = The French Society of Intensive Care (SRLF).


  • Esophageal pressure
  • Reintubation
  • Weaning
  • Work of breathing


Dive into the research topics of 'Physiological effects of high-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy after extubation: a randomized crossover study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this