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Nasopharyngeal Oxygen Catheters

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General Points

  1. Most commonly used in bronchiolitis to treat hypoxia.
  2. It is a catheter situated in the nasopharyngeal space with low flow oxygen, which delivers a reservoir of oxygen to the nasopharyngeal space.
  3. When used at low flow rates gastric distension does not occur if the catheter is correctly positioned. However, the infant should also have a nasogastric tube on free drainage.
  4. The nasopharyngeal oxygen catheter should be repositioned immediately if gastric distension is noted.
  5. Use in ages 0-2 years.
  6. Use a size FG8 catheter.
  7. Catheter position - insert via nose to a distance equal to that from nose to tragus of ear. The catheter will lie just below soft palate.

  8. Flow Rates % O2
    45ml/kg 30
    77ml/kg 40
    150ml/kg 50
    230ml/kg 60
    Oxygen flow meters, calibrated from 0.1-2.0 l/min are used.
  9.  Compressed oxygen from wall supply is very dry and long-term administration may damage nasopharyngeal mucosa. Heated humidification with a Fisher and Paykel humidifier and RT229 circuit is used. The humidifier and circuit should  be changed weekly to reduce bacterial infection.
  10. The catheters often become blocked with mucus. The catheter should be  removed and cleaned twice a day and prn if the patient suddenly desaturates.

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Document Control

  • Date last published: 18 January 2010
  • Document type: Clinical Guideline
  • Services responsible: Paediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Editor: John Beca
  • Review frequency: 2 years