BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Pneumothorax is common in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. In our NICU, we noted an above average incidence of pneumothorax compared with similar NICUs based on Vermont Oxford Network benchmarking. The quality improvement project was designed to decrease the incidence of pneumothorax in VLBW infants in a tertiary care NICU. METHODS: The project was divided into 2 periods. During period 1, all VLBW infants were followed for 6 months for the presence of pneumothorax. A multidisciplinary team met regularly to review cases of pneumothorax and identify potential causes. High tidal volumes (VT) (>6 mL/kg) were noted around the time of occurrence of pneumothorax. Guidelines were developed for improved monitoring and rapid feedback of VT and peak inspiratory pressure between nursing staff and clinicians. During period 2, these guidelines were implemented and VLBW infants were again followed for 6 months. The incidence of pneumothorax was tracked. Run charts were used to monitor changes. RESULTS: The incidence of pneumothorax in VLBW infants decreased from 10.4% to 2.6% after the intervention (P = .04). By using process control, a reduction in pneumothorax was achieved in period 2. CONCLUSIONS: Increased vigilance and real-time monitoring of VT and peak inspiratory pressure decreased the incidence of pneumothorax in our population of VLBW infants. These interventions can be considered in other NICUs with an above-average risk adjusted incidence of pneumothorax in VLBW infants. Our data illustrate the benefits of comparative benchmarking and organized quality improve-ment in advancing patient care outcomes.
OBJECTIVES: To determine if infants with very low birth weight who receive packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusions have increased odds of developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), to determine the rate of NEC after PRBC transfusion, and to characterize the blood transfused preceding the onset of NEC. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective cohort design was used. The study population included infants with a birth weight of <1500 g who were from a single center. NEC after transfusion was defined as NEC that occurred in the 48 hours after initiation of PRBC transfusion. Statistical analysis included unadjusted and multivariable analyses. RESULTS: The study sample included 2311 infants. A total of 122 infants (5.3%) developed NEC, and 33 (27%) of 122 NEC cases occurred after transfusion. NEC occurred after 33 (1.4%) of 2315 total transfusions. Infants who received a transfusion had increased adjusted odds (odds ratio: 2.3 [95% confidence interval: 1.2–4.2]) of developing NEC compared with infants who did not receive a transfusion. PRBCs transfused before NEC were predominantly (83%) from male donors and were a median of 5 days old. CONCLUSIONS: In our study sample, PRBC transfusion was associated with increased odds of NEC. The rate of NEC after transfusion was 1.4%. From our data we could not determine if PRBC transfusions were part of the causal pathway for NEC or were indicative of other factors that may be causal for NEC.
In the clinical setting, nasal cannulas are frequently used to deliver supplemental oxygen to neonates and are not believed to affect the general respiratory status. In contrast, it was hypothesized that clinical changes associated with nasal cannula gas flow may be related in part to the generation of positive end-distending pressure. To test this hypothesis, alterations in esophageal pressure were quantified as an indication of end-distending pressure and thoracoabdominal motion was quantified as an indication of breathing patterns in 13 preterm infants at gas flow levels of 0.5, 1, and 2 L/min delivered by nasal cannula with an outer diameter of either 0.2 or 0.3 cm. Changes in esophageal pressure were assessed by esophageal balloon manometry. Ventilatory patterns were assessed from thoracoabdominal motion by using respiratory inductive plethysmography. Thoracoabdominal motion was quantitated as a phase angle (Θ); larger values represent greater asynchrony. The 0.2-cm nasal cannula did not deliver pressure or alter thoracoabdominal motion at any flow. In contrast, the 0.3-cm nasal cannula delivered positive end-distending pressure as a function of increasing levels of gas flow (r = .92) and reduced thoracoabdominal motion asynchrony. The mean pressure generated at 2 L/min was 9.8 cm H2O. These data demonstrate that nasal cannula gas flow can deliver positive end-distending pressure to infants and significantly alter their breathing strategy. This finding raises important concerns about the indiscriminate therapeutic use, size selection, and safety of nasal cannulas for the routine delivery of oxygen in preterm infants.