Obese patients desaturate rapidly during the apneic period after induction of anesthesia for elective surgery. Administration of oxygen using high-flow nasal cannulae (HFNCs) may prevent desaturation in nonobese patients compared to facemask (FM) preoxygenation. The aim of this meta-analysis was to compare the effectiveness of HFNC to FM preoxygenation techniques in reducing preintubation desaturation in obese patients undergoing elective surgery.
This study protocol was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42022309391). Adult studies that compared HFNC and FM preoxygenation in obese patients requiring general anesthesia for elective surgery were included. The primary outcome was desaturation resulting in oxygen saturation of <92% from induction of anesthesia until intubation. Secondary outcomes included the lowest arterial oxygen content before intubation expressed in mm Hg, safe apnea time expressed in seconds, the lowest oxygen saturation before intubation expressed as a percentage, patient-reported discomfort, the need for rescue ventilation, and the incidence of aspiration of gastric contents during intubation. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration tool. Certainty was assessed following the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.
Six studies including 351 participants were eligible for analysis. There was no difference in odds of oxygen desaturation <92% between HFNC and FM (odds ratio [OR], 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.15–1.63; P = .24). The HFNC group had a significantly longer safe apnea time (mean difference [MD], –124.20 with 95% CI, –200.47 to −47.93; P = .001). There was no difference between HFNC and FM in the lowest arterial oxygen content (MD, −23.90; 95% CI, −88.64 to 40.85; P = .47) and the lowest peripheral oxygenation saturation (MD, −0.47 with 95% CI, –5.07 to 4.12; P = .84). HFNC had a lower odd of discomfort than FM (OR, 0.13; 95% CI, 0.03–0.52; P = .004). There was no difference in the odds of aspiration of gastric contents between HFNC and FM (OR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.01–8.21; P = .50). The risk of bias for our primary and secondary outcomes was low. The GRADE assessment for our primary outcome indicated a low level of certainty. For secondary outcomes, the GRADE assessment indicated a very low certainty for all outcomes except for patient discomfort, which was indicated as a moderate level of certainty.
There may be no difference between HFNC and FM preoxygenation in preventing oxygen desaturation <92% or the lowest oxygen saturation before intubation. Preparation remains important to prevent and manage desaturation during induction of obese patients.
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