High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy may be used to treat respiratory failure due to COVID-19 subject to safety requirements, HTAC notes in an interim recommendation.


HFNC oxygen therapy explained

High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy is a medical technique used to supply severe COVID-19 patients heated oxygen without cutting through or entering body parts. Commonly used as an alternative to non-invasive ventilation (NIV), HFNC treatment also helps soothe narrowed or blocked airways.


Severe COVID-19 and HFNC oxygenation 

Based on current data, the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) recommends HFNC oxygen therapy for managing respiratory failure from severe COVID-19. Compared to other NIVs, patients find HFNC more comfortable to use. However, evidence has yet to prove its clinical benefits and safety. 

To prevent infectious particles from flowing toward non-contaminated areas, facilities using HFNC must use dedicated isolation rooms. Health workers must also use complete personal protective equipment while caring for patients on HFNC oxygen therapy, among other safety and clinical requirements. 

As more facilities use the treatment option, researchers continue to collect information on HFNC and its potential value in managing severe COVID-19 symptoms. The HTAC thus further recommends that healthcare providers enrol COVID-19 patients on HFNC therapy in a national registry.