High Flow Nasal Cannula as Support in Immunocompromised Patients with Acute Respiratory Failure: A Retrospective Study

The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal 31 December 2021 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874306402115010061



High Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) is a novel technique for respiratory support that improves oxygenation. In some patients, it may reduce the work of breathing. In immunocompromised patients with Acute Respiratory Failure (ARF), Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) is the main support recommended strategy, since invasive mechanical ventilation could increase mortality rates. NIV used for more than 48 hours may be associated with increased in-hospital mortality and hospital length of stay. Therefore HFNC seems like a respiratory support alternative.


To describe clinical outcomes of immunocompromised patients with ARF HFNC-supported.


Retrospective study in patients admitted with ARF and HFNC-supported. 25 adult patients were included, 21 pharmacologically and 4 non- pharmacologically immunosuppressed. Median age of the patients was 64 [60-76] years, APACHE II 15 [11-19], and PaO2:FiO2 218 [165-248]. Demographic information, origin of immunosuppression, Respiratory Rate (RR), Heart Rate (HR), Mean Arterial Pressure (MAP), oxygen saturation (SpO2) and PaO2:FiO2 ratio were extracted from clinical records of our HFNC local protocol. Data acquisition was performed before and after the first 24 hours of connection. In addition, the need for greater ventilatory support after HFNC, orotracheal intubation, in-hospital mortality and 90 days out-patients’ mortality was recorded.


Mean RR before the connection was 25±22 breaths/min and 22±4 breaths/min after the first 24 hours of HFNC use (95% CI; p=0.02). HR mean before connection to HFNC was 96±22 beats/min, and after, it was 86±15 beats/min (95%CI; p=0.008). Previous mean MAP was 86±15 mmHg, and after HFNC, it was 80±12 mmHg (95%CI; p=0.09); mean SpO2 after was 93±5% and before it was 95±4% (95% CI; p=0.13); and previous PaO2:FiO2 mean was 219±66, and after it was 324±110 (95%CI; p=0.52). In-hospital mortality was 28% and 90 days out-patients’ mortality was 32%.


HFNC in immunosuppressed ARF subjects significantly decreases HR and RR, being apparently an effective alternative to decrease work of breathing. In-hospital mortality in ARF immunosuppressed patients was high even though respiratory support was used. Better studies are needed to define the role of HFNC-support in ARF.

Keywords: High flow nasal cannula, Immunosuppression, Acute respiratory failure, Hypoxemic respiratory failure, Oxygenation, Breathing.
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