Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for acute bronchiolitis in children

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Background: Acute bronchiolitis is one of the most frequent causes of emergency department visits and hospitalisation in children up to three years of age. There is no specific treatment for bronchiolitis except for supportive treatment, which includes ensuring adequate hydration and oxygen supplementation. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) aims to widen the lungs' peripheral airways, enabling deflation of overdistended lungs in bronchiolitis. Increased airway pressure also prevents the collapse of poorly supported peripheral small airways during expiration. Observational studies report that CPAP is beneficial for children with acute bronchiolitis. This is an update of a review first published in 2015 and updated in 2019. Objectives: To assess the efficacy and safety of CPAP compared to no CPAP or sham CPAP in infants and children up to three years of age with acute bronchiolitis. Search methods: We conducted searches of CENTRAL (2021, Issue 7), which includes the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group Specialised Register, MEDLINE (1946 to August 2021), Embase (1974 to August 2021), CINAHL (1981 to August 2021), and LILACS (1982 to August 2021) in August 2021. We also searched the US National Institutes of Health Ongoing Trials Register and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) for completed and ongoing trials on 26 October 2021. Selection criteria: We considered randomised controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-RCTs, cross-over RCTs, and cluster-RCTs evaluating the effect of CPAP in children with acute bronchiolitis. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed study eligibility, extracted data using a structured pro forma, analysed data, and performed meta-analyses. We used the Cochrane risk of bias tool to assess risk of bias in the included studies. We created a summary of the findings table employing GRADEpro GDT software. Main results: We included three studies with a total of 122 children (62/60 in intervention/control arms) aged up to 12 months investigating nasal CPAP compared with supportive (or 'standard') therapy. We included one new trial (72 children) in the 2019 update that contributed data to the assessment of respiratory rate and the need for mechanical ventilation for this update. We did not identify any new trials for inclusion in the current update. The included studies were single-centre trials conducted in France, the UK, and India. Two studies were parallel-group RCTs, and one study was a cross-over RCT. The evidence provided by the included studies was of low certainty; we made an assessment of high risk of bias for blinding, incomplete outcome data, and selective reporting, and confidence intervals were wide. The effect of CPAP on the need for mechanical ventilation in children with acute bronchiolitis was uncertain due to risk of bias and imprecision around the effect estimate (risk difference −0.01, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.09 to 0.08; 3 RCTs, 122 children; low certainty evidence). None of the trials measured time to recovery. Limited, low certainty evidence indicated that CPAP decreased respiratory rate (decreased respiratory rate is better) (mean difference (MD) −3.81, 95% CI −5.78 to −1.84; 2 RCTs, 91 children; low certainty evidence). Only one trial measured change in arterial oxygen saturation (increased oxygen saturation is better), and the results were imprecise (MD −1.70%, 95% CI −3.76 to 0.36; 1 RCT, 19 children; low certainty evidence). The effect of CPAP on change in arterial partial carbon dioxide pressure (pCO₂) (decrease in pCO₂ is better) was imprecise (MD −2.62 mmHg, 95% CI −5.29 to 0.05; 2 RCTs, 50 children; low certainty evidence). Duration of hospital stay was similar in both the CPAP and supportive care groups (MD 0.07 days, 95% CI −0.36 to 0.50; 2 RCTs, 50 children; low certainty evidence). Two studies did not report pneumothorax, but pneumothorax did not occur in one study. No studies reported occurrences of deaths. Several outcomes (change in partial oxygen pressure, hospital admission rate (from the emergency department to hospital), duration of emergency department stay, and need for intensive care unit admission) were not reported in the included studies. Authors' conclusions: The use of CPAP did not reduce the need for mechanical ventilation in children with bronchiolitis, although the evidence was of low certainty. Limited, low certainty evidence suggests that breathing improved (a decreased respiratory rate) in children with bronchiolitis who received CPAP; this finding is unchanged from the 2015 review and 2019 update. Due to the limited available evidence, the effect of CPAP in children with acute bronchiolitis is uncertain for our other outcomes. Larger, adequately powered trials are needed to evaluate the effect of CPAP for children with acute bronchiolitis.




Jat, K. R., Dsouza, J. M., & Mathew, J. L. (2022, April 4). Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for acute bronchiolitis in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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