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Cardiovascular surgery, Chest x-ray, Nasal high flow, Oxygen therapy, Postextubation, Postoperative complications



  1. Fasolino, Tracy PhD, RN
  2. Whitten, Joseph RCP
  3. Moylan, Melanie MSc, PhD


Background: Reintubation and complications in postoperative cardiothoracic patients remain high despite medical advancements. A 2-year retrospective, observational study was conducted in postextubated cardiothoracic patients to assess the effectiveness of the current standard-conventional oxygen therapy (COT) compared with a nasal high flow (NHF) therapy.


Objectives: The objective of this study was to understand whether NHF therapy would reduce the need for reintubation and improve clinical outcomes after surgery.


Method: All consecutive postoperative patients who had same-day elective cardiothoracic surgery in a tertiary hospital were included. The 2013 data were from patients' charts who received COT, and the 2014 data were from patients' charts after the implementation of NHF therapy post extubation as a standard of care.


Results: A total of 400 patient charts were analyzed: 221 and 179 patients in the COT and NHF, respectively. No significant difference was seen in the frequency of reintubation (P = .48). Despite both cohorts having the same length of stay (P = .10), patients treated with NHF required less time on supplemental oxygen (P = .001). Day 1 postoperative chest x-ray results did not show any significant differences between groups, whereas day 2 x-rays showed worsening results in the COT cohort (P < .001). Furthermore, the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) post extubation was significantly higher in the COT cohort, with zero VAP episodes reported in the NHF cohort (P = .02).


Discussion: Although this study was not able to demonstrate the reduction in reintubation between groups, the use of NHF compared with COT seems to reduce the time spent on oxygen therapy and decrease the rate of VAP. Further evidence including randomized controlled trials is required to determine the impact of NHF on reintubation and complications in postoperative cardiothoracic surgery.