High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) is a relatively safe and effective noninvasive ventilation method that was recently accepted as a treatment option for acute respiratory support before endotracheal intubation or invasive ventilation. The action mechanism of HFNC includes a decrease in nasopharyngeal resistance, washout of dead space, reduction in inflow of ambient air, and an increase in airway pressure. In preterm infants, HFNC can be used to prevent reintubation and initial noninvasive respiratory support after birth. In children, flow level adjustments are crucial considering their maximal efficacy and complications. Randomized controlled studies suggest that HFNC can be used in cases of moderate to severe bronchiolitis upon initial low-flow oxygen failure. HFNC can also reduce intubation and mechanical ventilation in children with respiratory failure. Several observational studies have shown that HFNC can be beneficial in acute asthma and other respiratory distress. Multicenter randomized studies are warranted to determine the feasibility and adherence of HFNC and continuous positive airway pressure in pediatric intensive care units. The development of clinical guidelines for HFNC, including flow settings, indications, and contraindications, device management, efficacy identification, and safety issues are needed, particularly in children.
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