Evaluation of nasopharyngeal oxygen, nasal prongs and facemask oxygen therapy devices in adult patients: A randomised crossover trial

G. M. Eastwood, B. O'Connell, A. Gardner, J. Considine

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Nasopharyngeal oxygen (NPO) therapy may overcome some of the difficulties associated with nasal prongs and facemask oxygen delivery devices. In response to a lack of published studies of NPO therapy in adults, we conducted a prospective randomised crossover trial to compare the effectiveness of NPO, nasal prongs (NP) and facemasks (FM) when used in an adult population (n=37) from the intensive care unit and general hospital wards. We measured oxygen saturation (SpO2) using pulse oximetry, oxygen flow (litres per minute), respiration rate (per minute) and comfort using a horizontal visual analogue scale. All three devices were effective in maintaining a SpO 2 of ≥95% (NP 97.0±1.9, NPO 97.7±1.7, FM 98.8±1.3%). NPO therapy consumed less oxygen than NP and FM therapy (NP 2.6±1.0, NPO 2.2±0.9, FM 6.1±0.4 l/min, P <0.001). There was no significant difference in patients' respiratory rates (NP 19.9±3.2, NPO 19.9±3.0, FM 19.8±3.1 per minute, P=0.491). In terms of comfort, patients rated NP higher than NPO and FM using a horizontal visual analogue scale (100 mm=most comfortable) (NP 65.5±14.3, NPO 62.8±19.4, FM 49.4±21.4 mm, P <0.001). We conclude that for adult patients, nasal prongs and nasopharyngeal oxygen therapy consume less oxygen and provide greater comfort than facemasks while still maintaining SpO2 ≥95%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-694
Number of pages4
JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Facemask oxygen
  • Nasal prongs
  • Nasopharyngeal oxygen

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