Nasal CPAP complications in very low birth weight preterm infants

Guimarães, A.R.*, Rocha, G., Rodrigues, M., Guimarães, H. | JNPM 2020;


BACKGROUND: Nasal trauma due to nasal CPAP (nCPAP) use is a commonly reported complication in infants under 1500 g of birth weight and 32 weeks of gestation. With the rise of nCPAP as the gold standard for non-invasive respiratory support, preventive measures should be considered. OBJECTIVE:To assess the prevalence and risk factors of nasal injury in very low birth weight (VLBW) preterm infants with nCPAP.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed neonates hospitalized between 2012 and 2017, with less than 1500 g and 32 weeks of gestational age who received more than 12 hours of nCPAP. Demographic, antenatal and clinical data, along with information regarding respiratory support and nCPAP complications, were collected. We used Fischer’s classification to grade nasal trauma.

RESULTS: A total of 135 infants were evaluated. Mean gestational age was 28 weeks (SD 2) and mean birth weight 1072 g (SD 239). Nasal trauma was reported in 65% of patients and it was of stage I, II and III in 49%, 16% and 1% of patients, respectively. The multivariate logistic regression revealed that the risk of trauma was greater in neonates with a longer duration of nCPAP ventilation (OR = 1.098, 95% CI: 1.055–1.142; p < 0.001) and in patients submitted to oxygen therapy (OR = 3.174, 95% CI: 1.014–9.929, p = 0.004). The median of days after nCPAP administration until the onset of an identifiable lesion was 4.

CONCLUSION: Nasal trauma is a frequent complication in VLBW preterm infants using nCPAP for long periods. Preventive measures in patients who are at greater risk of skin breakdown are of major clinical importance for a better outcome.

*Corresponding Author: 

André R. Guimarães, MD, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. E-mail: