AIM: Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) has been proposed as an early first-line support for infants with severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. We hypothesised that infants <6 months with severe RSV would require shorter ventilator support on NCPAP than invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV).
METHODS: Retrospective cohort analysis of infants admitted to two paediatric intensive care units, one primarily using NCPAP and one exclusively using IMV, between January 2008 and February 2010.
RESULTS: We studied 133 (NCPAP n = 89, IMV n = 46) consecutively admitted infants. On admission, disease severity [i.e. Paediatric RISk of Mortality (PRISM) II score (NCPAP 5.1 ± 2.8 vs. IMV 12.2 ± 6.0, p < 0.001) and SpO2 /Fi O2 ratio (NCPAP 309 ± 81 vs. IMV 135 ± 98, p < 0.001)] was higher in the IMV group. NCPAP remained independently associated with shorter ventilatory support (hazard ratio 2.3, 95% CI 1.1-4.7, p = 0.022) after adjusting for PRISM II score, PCO2 , SpO2 /Fi O2 ratio, bronchopulmonary dysplasia and occurrence of clinically suspected secondary bacterial pneumonia.
CONCLUSION: Nasal continuous positive airway pressure was independently associated with a shorter duration of ventilatory support. Differences in baseline disease severity mandate a randomised trial before the routine use of NCPAP can be recommended.