Elective intubation for laser retinopexy treatment of severe ROP is not associated with increased morbidity or length of stay

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Laser retinopexy is the current standard treatment for babies with type I retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). No guidelines exist for respiratory management during this procedure. Although neonatologists prefer to avoid intubation to prevent delays in extubation, feeding and discharge, ophthalmologists often request intubation, because sedation alone may lead to respiratory collapse. Little evidence is available regarding which treatment provides the most benefit to vulnerable infants. OBJECTIVE: This study investigated relevant associations or underlying conditions that may help guide decision-making in respiratory management during laser retinopexy. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed to analyze data from babies who underwent retinopexy from 2006 to 2011 at the Montefiore Medical Center. The main outcome measures included respiratory support before, during and after laser therapy; time from treatment to extubation; and time from treatment to discharge. RESULTS: The main outcomes were analyzed in four groups: never intubated (n = 27), emergently intubated (n = 7), already intubated (n = 8) and electively intubated (n = 28). No significant differences were observed in the number of pre-operative apneic/bradycardic events, postoperative time to extubation, time to discharge and delays in feeding among groups. CONCLUSIONS: No specific comorbid conditions were found to predict a need for intubation. Elective intubation did not cause delays in feedings, extubation or discharge. A selective approach to respiratory support would result in 20% of initially non-intubated patients requiring emergent intubation.

*Corresponding Author: 

Umar K. Mian, MD, Montefiore Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, 3332 Rochambeau Ave 3rd Floor, Bronx, New York 10467, USA. Tel.: +1 718 920 5368; Fax: +1 718 794 9532; E-mail: umian@montefiore.org.