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MP 8.01.37 Inhaled Nitric Oxide

Medical Policy
Section
Therapy
 
Original Policy Date
8/18/00
Last Review Status/Date
Reviewed with literature search/7:2011
Issue
7:2011
Return to Medical Policy Index

Disclaimer

Our medical policies are designed for informational purposes only and are not an authorization, or an explanation of benefits, or a contract.  Receipt of benefits is subject to satisfaction of all terms and conditions of the coverage.  Medical technology is constantly changing, and we reserve the right to review and update our policies periodically.


Description

Inhaled nitric oxide is a treatment for neonates with hypoxic respiratory failure that is intended to improve oxygenation, reduce mortality rates and reduce the need for invasive extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). It is also proposed as a treatment for premature infants, critically ill children and adults with respiratory failure, and in the postoperative management of children undergoing repair of congenital heart disease.

Hypoxic respiratory failure may result from respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), persistent pulmonary hypertension, meconium aspiration, pneumonia, or sepsis. Its treatment typically includes oxygen support, mechanical ventilation, and induction of alkalosis, neuromuscular blockade, or sedation. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is an invasive technique that may be considered in neonates when other therapies fail. Inhaled nitric oxide (NO) is both a vasodilator and a mediator in many physiologic and pathologic processes.

INOmax, a commercially available inhaled nitric oxide product, is FDA-approved for use in term and near-term neonates with hypoxic respiratory failure along with respiratory support and other appropriate treatments. Inhaled nitric oxide has also been proposed for use in preterm infants <34 weeks’ gestation. Another potential application of inhaled nitric oxide is to improve oxygenation in patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure (AHRF), including acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and acute lung injury. These conditions are associated with inflammation of the alveolar-capillary membrane which leads to hypoxemia and pulmonary hypertension. In addition, inhaled nitric oxide is proposed for management of pulmonary hypertension after cardiac surgery in infants and children with congenital heart disease. In congenital heart disease patients, increased pulmonary blood flow can cause pulmonary hypertension. Cardiac surgery can restore the pulmonary vasculature to normal but there is the potential for complications including post-operative pulmonary hypertension which can prevent weaning from ventilation and is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality.

Regulatory Status
In 1999, INOmax™ (Ikaria®, Clinton, NJ) was approved by the FDA through the 510(k) process for the following indication: “INOmax, in conjunction with ventilatory support and other appropriate agents, is indicated for the treatment of term and near-term (greater than 34 weeks) neonates with hypoxic respiratory failure associated with clinical or echocardiographic evidence of pulmonary hypertension”


Policy

Inhaled nitric oxide may be considered medically necessary as a component of treatment of hypoxic respiratory failure in neonates born at more than 34 weeks of gestation.

Other indications for inhaled nitric oxide are investigational, including, but not limited to, its use in premature neonates born at less than or equal to 34 weeks of gestation, adults and children with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure and postoperative management of pulmonary hypertension in children with congenital heart disease.


Policy Guidelines

Inhaled nitric oxide appears to be of greatest benefit in individuals for whom primary or secondary pulmonary hypertension is a component of hypoxic respiratory failure.

The benefit of inhaled nitric oxide appears limited in term or near-term infants whose hypoxic respiratory failure is due to diaphragmatic hernia.

The following criterion for hypoxic respiratory failure has been reported:

  • An oxygenation index of at least 25 on 2 measurements made at least 15 minutes apart.

(The oxygenation index [OI] is calculated as the mean airway pressure times the fraction of inspired oxygen divided by the partial pressure of arterial oxygen times 100. An OI of 25 is associated with a 50% risk of requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or dying. An OI of 40 is often used as a criterion to initiate ECMO therapy.)


Benefit Application

BlueCard/National Account Issues

Due to the relatively high cost of inhaled nitric oxide, institutions using this therapy may want to negotiate a separate carve-out reimbursement structure. In many cases, nitric oxide therapy is initiated on an emergency basis, and thus the institution may not seek precertification/prior approval. Thus many of these requests may be reviewed retrospectively.


Rationale

This policy was created in 2000 with a literature search using MEDLINE and was updated regularly with MEDLINE searches. The most recent literature update was for the period May 2010 through May 2011. In 2011, the policy was expanded to specifically mention children with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure and postoperative management of pulmonary hypertension in children with congenital heart disease; the literature on these potential indications was searched through May 2011.

Following is a summary of the key literature published to date:

Term or Near-Term Neonates

In 2006, a Cochrane review of randomized controlled trials on inhaled nitric oxide in infants with hypoxia born at or near-term (> 34 weeks’ gestation) was published. (1) The review identified 14 trials. Eleven trials compared inhaled nitric oxide to control (placebo or standard neonatal intensive care) in infants with moderate severity of illness scores; 4 of these trials allowed back-up treatment with nitric oxide if infants continued to satisfy the same criteria after a pre-specified period of time. Another 2 trials included infants with moderate severity of disease; they compared immediate nitric oxide to nitric oxide only if infants’ conditions deteriorated to a more severe level of illness. One of the trials only included infants with diaphragmatic hernia. The remaining trial compared nitric oxide to high frequency ventilation. In all of the studies, hypoxemic respiratory failure was required for study entry and most also required echocardiographic evidence of persistent pulmonary hypertension. The main findings of the meta-analysis are as follows:

Combined outcome, death or ECMO

No. Studies

Inhaled nitric
oxide n/N

Control n/N

Risk ratio (95% CI)

Backup use of nitric oxide not allowed

6

149/418 (36%)

194/335 (58%)

0.65 (0.55-0.76)

Backup use of nitric oxide allowed

3

20/87 (23%)

14/75 (19%)

1.15 (0.67-1.97)

All studies

9

169/505 (33%)

208/410 (51%)

0.68 (0.59-0.79)

 
Death

No. Studies

Inhaled nitric
oxide n/N

Control n/N

Risk ratio (95% CI)

Backup use of nitric oxide not allowed

6

35/417 (8%)

33/337 (10%) 

0.92 (0.58-1.48) 

Backup use of nitric oxide allowed

3

9/79 (11%) 

12/83 (13%) 

0.86 (0.37-1.98) 

All studies

9

44/496 (9%) 

45/420 (11%) 

0.91 (0.60-1.37) 

 
ECMO

No. Studies

Inhaled nitric
oxide n/N

Control n/N

Risk ratio (95% CI)

Backup use of nitric oxide not allowed

6

128/418 (31%) 

181/337 (54%) 

0.61 (0.51-0.72) 

Backup use of nitric oxide allowed

2

11/24 (20%)

11/31 (35%) 

1.14 (0.63-2.02) 

All studies

8

139/442 (31%)

192/368 (52%) 

0.63 (0.54-0.75) 

 

The investigators found that inhaled nitric oxide in hypoxic infants reduced the incidence of the combined endpoint of death or need for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation compared to controls. In a pooled analysis of 8 studies, the risk ratio (RR) was 0.68 (95% confidence interval [CI] =0.59-0.79). The combined outcome of death or need for ECMO was also significantly reduced in a pooled analysis of the 6 studies in which back-up oxygen was not allowed (RR =0.65, 95% CI =0.55-0.76), but this was not the case in an analysis of the 2 studies in which nitric oxide was allowed (RR =1.15, 95% CI =0.67-1.97). Inhaled nitric oxide did not have a significant effect on mortality as the sole outcome measure. In a pooled analysis of 9 studies, the risk ratio was 0.91 (95% CI =0.60-1.37). There was, however, a significant effect of inhaled nitric oxide on need for ECMO only. When findings of 8 studies were pooled, the risk ration was 0.63 (95% CI =0.54-0.75). One trial that was limited to infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia did not find that inhaled nitric oxide improved outcomes. When findings of this trial were combined with data on infants with diaphragmatic hernia from another trial (the only other trial from which this information could be extrapolated), there was not a significant effect on mortality, or the combined outcome, mortality or requiring ECMO in infants who used nitric oxide. However, there was a marginally significant increase in the requirement for ECMO in those receiving nitric oxide, although the analysis was based on a small number of infants. Thirty-one of 46 (67%) controls compared to 32 of 38 (84%) infants in the nitric acid group required ECMO (RR =1.27, 95% CI-1.00 to 1.62). The authors concluded that, based on the available evidence, it appeared reasonable to use inhaled nitric oxide in an initial concentration of 20 ppm for term and near-term infants with hypoxic respiratory failure who do not have a diaphragmatic hernia.

A pooled analysis of data from three clinical trials on inhaled nitric oxide for treating term and near term infants (at least 34 weeks’ gestation) with hypoxia was published in 2010 by Golumbek and colleagues. (2) This study was not based on a systematic review of the literature; all of the trials and the pooled analyses were industry-sponsored. The trials had sample sizes of 235, 155 and 248, respectively. The three trials all compared inhaled nitric oxide at a starting dose of 20 ppm to a control treatment (100% oxygen, inhaled NO at 0 ppm or nitrogen gas). The primary outcome was change in partial pressure of arterial oxygen (PaO2). A pooled analysis found that patients in the treatment group had a significantly higher mean PaO2 level after 30 minutes than patients in the control group (118.9 vs. 68.3 mm Hg, p <0.001). In addition, after 30 minutes, there was a significantly higher increase from baseline in PaO2 in the inhaled NO group (54.9 mm Hg) than the control group (14.1 mm Hg), p <0.001. Duration of mechanical ventilation in patients who survived without ECMO, a secondary outcome of the analysis, was significantly lower in the inhaled NO group (11 days) than the control group (14 days), p =0.003. The article did not report survival or need for ECMO.

Premature Neonates

In near-term neonates, the role of inhaled nitric oxide functions primarily as a vasodilator to treat pulmonary hypertension, often due to meconium aspiration or bacterial pneumonia. However, in preterm neonates with respiratory failure, pulmonary hypertension with shunting is not a clinical problem. Therefore, these 2 groups of neonates represent distinct clinical issues, and the results of inhaled nitric oxide in near-term neonates cannot be extrapolated to preterm neonates. In addition, there is concern regarding the possible risk of intraventricular hemorrhage associated with inhaled nitric oxide in premature infants.

In 2007, a systematic review of the major randomized, controlled trials on inhaled nitric oxide for preterm infants (less than 35 weeks’ gestation) was published. (3) This review included 11 trials; results of the meta-analyses were stratified on the indications for nitric oxide (routine use for intubated infants; during the first 3 days of life for severe respiratory failure; and after the first 3 days of life to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia based on risk). Key findings are as follows:

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death at 36 weeks

No. Studies

Inhaled nitric
oxide n/N

Control n/N

Risk ratio (95% CI)

Studies with entry before 3 days based on oxygenation

6

314/430 (73%)

328/434 (76%)

0.95 (0.88-1.02)

Studies with entry after 3 days based on risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia

2

185/314 (95%)

203/310 (65%)

0.90 (0.80-1.02)

Studies of routine use in intubated preterm infants

2

333/503 (66%)

360/497 (72%)

0.91 (0.84-0.99)

 

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia among survivors at 36 weeks

No. Studies

Inhaled nitric
oxide n/N

Control n/N

Risk ratio (95% CI)

Studies with entry before 3 days on oxygenation

6

126/287 (44%)

148/308 (48%)

0.89 (0.76-1.05)

Studies with entry after 3 days based on risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia

2

159/288 (55%)

178/285 (62%)

0.89 (0.78-1.02)

Studies of routine use in intubated preterm infants

2

247-487 (51%)

252/474 (53%)

0.96 (0.85-1.08)

 

The risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death was significantly reduced in a pooled analysis of the 2 studies on routine use of inhaled nitric oxide in intubated preterm infants (RR =0.91, 95% CI =0.84-0.99). Bronchopulmonary dysplasia among survivors at 36 weeks was not significantly reduced by use of inhaled nitric oxide in any of the three types of studies. The Cochrane review concluded that early routine use of inhaled nitric oxide may improve survival without bronchopulmonary dysplasia, but that further studies are needed to confirm these findings and evaluate long-term outcomes. The authors also concluded that inhaled nitric oxide as rescue therapy in the first 3 days, and after 3 days of life to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia based on risk does not appear to be effective.

An Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-sponsored systematic review of randomized trials on inhaled nitric oxide for premature infants (less than 35 weeks’ gestation) was published in 2011. (4) Unlike the 2007 Cochrane review, described above, the authors did not categorize trials on the basis of their inclusion criteria. Thirty-one articles were initially selected; these included 14 unique randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Studies had sample sizes ranging from 29 to 800 and data from 3461 infants were available for the review. (Note that 3 trials were published since the 2007 Cochrane review including one study with 800 participants.) The primary outcomes of the AHRQ analysis were survival and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Regardless of how mortality was reported or defined (e.g., death within 7 days or 28 days, or death in the neonatal intensive care unit [NICU]), there was no statistically significant difference between the inhaled nitric oxide group and control group in any of the 14 RCTs. In a pooled analysis of 11 trials that reported death by 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age or in the NICU, the risk ratio was 0.97 (95% CI =0.82 to 1.15). Similarly, 9 trials reported survival to between 1 and 5 years of age and none of these reported a statistically significant difference between the inhaled NO and control groups. A pooled analysis of data from 7 trials reporting mortality between 12 and 30 months of age had a risk ratio of 1.02 (95% CI =0.86 to 1.20). Twelve trials reported data on bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age and despite variations in reporting of BPD, there were no significant benefit of inhaled nitric oxide treatment in any trial. A pooled analysis of data from 8 trials reporting BPD at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age among survivors resulted in a risk ratio of 0.93 (95% CI =0.86-1.003). Eleven RCTs reported the composite outcome of death or BPD at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age. Eight of these trials reported no significant difference between groups and 3 reported significantly lower rates in the inhaled nitric oxide group. A pooled analysis of data from all 11 of these trials resulted in a small but statistically significant difference favoring inhaled nitric oxide (RR =0.93, 95% CI =0.87 to 0.99). A sensitivity analysis by dose of inhaled NO did not affect findings on the composite outcome. The systematic review did not find evidence that inhaled NO increased the rate of adverse effects such as ductus arteriosus or pulmonary hemorrhage. In addition, a meta-analysis of 5 trials that reported a composite outcome of brain injury did not find a significant difference in rates between groups (RR =0.86, 95% CI =0.58 to 1.29). The overall conclusions from this systematic review are that the use of NO does not significantly reduce mortality or BPD in this patient group. This evidence does not support the use of inhaled NO in preterm infants with respiratory failure outside of the clinical trial setting.

A brief description of selected trials with premature neonates is as follows:
The largest trial to date was published in 2010 by Mercier and colleagues. (5) This was a multicenter European industry-sponsored randomized trial that evaluated low-dose inhaled nitric oxide therapy. The study included 800 preterm infants (gestational age at birth between 24 and 28 weeks 6 days) who weighed at least 500 grams and required surfactant or continuous positive airway pressure for respiratory distress syndrome within 24 hours of birth. Patients were randomized to receive treatment with inhaled nitric oxide 5 ppm (n =399) or placebo-equivalent nitrogen gas (n =401). Therapy was given for 7 to 21 days (mean duration = 16 days). A total of 792 of 800 (99%) of patients were given their assigned treatment and all 800 were included in the intention to treat analysis. The primary outcomes were survival without BPD at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age, overall survival at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age, and BPD at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age. Survival without bronchopulmonary dysplasia at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age, was attained by 258 (65%) of patients in the inhaled nitric oxide group and 262 (66
%) of patients in the placebo group, a difference that was not statistically significant (RR =1.05, 95% CI =0.78 to 1.43, p  =0.73). Overall survived at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age was attained by 343 (86%) in the inhaled NO group and 359 (90%) in the control group (RR =0.74, 95% CI =0.48-1.15, p =0.21). The percent of patients with BPD at 36 weeks postmenstrual age was 81 (24%) in the NO group and 96 (27%) in the control group (RR =0.83, 95% CI =0.58-1.17, p =0.29). The secondary endpoint of survival without brain injury at gestational age 36 weeks also did not differ significantly between groups (RR =0.78, 95% CI =0.53-1.17, p =0.23). This endpoint was attained by 181 (69%) patients in the inhaled NO group and 188 (76%) patients in the placebo group, p =0.23. Rates of serious adverse events (i.e., intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leukomalacia, patient ductus arteriosus, pneumothorax, pulmonary hemorrhage, necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis) were 158/395 (40%) in the inhaled NO group and 164/397 (41%) in the control group, p =0.72. The most common adverse effect was intracranial hemorrhage which affected 114 (29%) in the inhaled NO group and 91 (23%) in the control group (exact p-value not reported).

In 2003, Schreiber and colleagues (6) reported the results of a trial that randomly assigned 207 premature infants (less than 34 weeks’ gestation) with respiratory distress syndrome receiving mechanical ventilation to receive inhaled nitric oxygen or inhaled oxygen placebo for 7 days. Compared to the control group, the treatment group experienced a lower incidence of death or chronic lung disease (48.6% vs. 63.7%, respectively). In a post hoc analysis, the authors concluded that those infants with mild to moderate respiratory distress were most likely to benefit. While these results are promising, an accompanying editorial points out that the significant difference between the two groups was in part related to the unexpectedly high rate of unfavorable outcomes (i.e., death or chronic lung disease) in the control group. (4) The author also notes that there is still uncertainty about the overall safety of inhaled nitric oxide in premature infants, in addition to uncertainly about optimal dosage, timing, and duration of therapy.

In 2005, Van Meurs and colleagues reported on the results of a randomized trial sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). (67) This study recruited 420 neonates with respiratory failure born at less than 34 weeks of gestation who were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or inhaled nitric oxide. There was no significant difference in outcomes between groups, as measured by the rate of death or bronchopulmonary dysplasia. In 2007, Hintz et al. (6) reported neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants at 18–22 months of age who had been enrolled in the trial. Among the 193 infants alive and for whom data were available, there was no difference in the rates of neurodevelopment impairment nor were there differences in scores on the Mental Development Index. Infants treated with nitric oxide had higher rates of moderate-severe cerebral palsy (RR 2.41; 95% CI: 1.01-5.75) and higher rates of death or cerebral palsy in the subgroup of infants weighing less than 1,000 grams (RR 1.22; 95% CI: 1.01-1.43).

Hibbs and colleagues (8) published a 1-year follow-up from the Nitric Oxide to Prevent Chronic Lung Disease trial, with data available for 455 of 587 infants originally enrolled. This study compared rates of respiratory medication use, parent-reported symptoms, and hospitalizations. Infants treated with nitric oxide were less likely to use respiratory medications following hospital discharge, including bronchodilators (odds ratio [OR]= 0.53; 95% CI: 0.36-0.78), inhaled corticosteroids (OR = 0.50; 95% CI: 0.32-0.77), systemic steroids (OR = 0.56; 95% CI: 0.32-0.97), diuretics (OR = 0.54; 95% CI: 0.34-0.85), and supplemental oxygen (OR = 0.65; 95% CI: 0.44-0.95). There were no differences between groups in parent-reported symptoms or hospitalizations.

In 2006, Ballard et al. reported that inhaled nitric oxide therapy improves pulmonary outcomes for premature infants who are at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) when therapy is started between 7 and 21 days of age and has no apparent short-term adverse effects. (9) A follow-up analysis reporting on 2-year neurodevelopmental outcomes was published in 2010. (9) Of the 582 infants originally enrolled in the trial, 535 (92%) survived to 2 years of age; 270 of 294 (92%) in the inhaled nitric oxide group and 265 of 288 (92%) in the placebo group. Two-year follow-up data were available for 477 of the surviving infants; 243 of 270 (90%) in the inhaled nitric oxide group and 234 of 265 (88%) in the placebo group. At 2 years, 109 (45%) in the inhaled nitric oxide group and 114 (49%) in the placebo group had neurodevelopmental impairment, a nonstatistically significant difference. (Neurodevelopmental impairment was defined as at least one of the following: Mental Developmental Index score of less than 70, Psychomotor Developmental Index score of less than 70, unable to crawl or walk, bilateral blindness or bilateral deafness requiring amplification.) A limitation of the follow-up analysis was that neurodevelopmental impairment was not a primary outcome of the study, and the analysis may have been underpowered.

Adults and children with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure In 2011, Afshari and colleagues published a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs evaluating the efficacy of acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute lung injury (together known as acute hypoxemic respiratory failure). (10) Studies of neonates were excluded. The authors identified a total of 24 papers that underwent full review. They excluded 8 trials, leaving 16 reports of 14 trials. Most trials included adults with a mixture of ARDS and acute lung injury; 3 trials included pediatric populations and 1 trial included mainly adults and some children. Sample size in individual trials varied from 14 to 385 participants. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality. A pooled analysis of data from all 14 trials on mortality at longest follow-up reported 265/660 (40.2%) deaths in the group receiving inhaled nitric oxide and 228/590 (38.6%) deaths in the control group. The difference between groups was not statistically significant (relative risk [RR] =1.06, 95% CI =0.93 to 1.22). Findings were similar for analyses of mortality after one month and for the subgroups or adults and children. In other pooled analyses, inhaled nitric oxide was not found to have a beneficial effect on the number of ventilator-free days or the duration of mechanical ventilation. Regarding adverse effects, a meta-analysis did not find a significant difference in bleeding rates between groups. However, a pooled analysis of 4 trials with data on renal impairment found a significant increase in events in the group receiving inhaled nitric oxide. There were 91/503 (18.1%) events in the inhaled nitric oxide group and 51/442 (11.5%) events in the control group (RR =1.59, 95% CI =1.17 to 2.16). Exact numbers of events were not reported for most secondary or sub-group analyses. The results of this analysis does not support of a benefit for inhaled NO in children and adults with hpoxemic respiratory failure.

A 2003 Cochrane systematic review identified 5 RCTs comparing inhaled nitric oxide and placebo for acute hypoxemic respiratory failure; all of these trials were included in the 2011 Afshari meta-analysis. (11) The Cochrane authors conducted only one pooled analysis and it combined findings from 2 studies. The meta-analysis did not find a significant impact of inhaled nitric oxide on mortality in studies without cross-over of failures to treatment with inhaled NO (pooled RR =0.98, 95% CI =0.66 to 1.44) Insufficient data from no more than one trial each were available on other outcomes including length of stay in the intensive care unit and duration of hospital stay. Two trials reported on ventilator-free days after one month but the data could not be pooled due to differences in the outcome variable; one trial reported number of ventilator-free days and the other reported the percentage of patients alive and extubated at 30 days. Individually, neither of these 2 studies found a significant difference in outcome between the inhaled nitric oxide and control groups.

The largest individual trial was published by Taylor and colleagues in 2004 and also did not report improvements for patients treated with inhaled NO. (12) The investigators randomly assigned 385 patients with acute lung injury to receive either low-dose inhaled nitric oxide or placebo. Patient selection criteria included no more than 72 hours from the onset of lung injury and absence of sepsis or non-pulmonary organ system dysfunction. The authors reported that inhaled nitric oxide was not associated with an improvement in number of days alive or days off ventilation.

Postoperative management of pulmonary hypertension in children with congenital heart disease
A Cochrane systematic review was published in 2005 and updated in 2007. (13) The authors identified 4 randomized controlled trials comparing postoperative inhaled nitric oxide versus placebo or usual care in the management of children with congenital heart disease. All of the trials included participants who were identified as having pulmonary hypertension in the preoperative or postoperative period. Sample sizes in the 4 studies were 12, 35, 44 and 124. Three trials were parallel group trials and one was a cross-over trial. Mortality was the primary outcome of the Cochrane meta-analysis. Two trials with a total of 162 patients reported mortality prior to discharge. A pooled analysis of findings from these 2 studies did not find a significant difference in mortality between the group receiving inhaled nitric oxide compared to the control group (OR =1.67, 95% CI =0.38 to 7.30). Among the secondary outcomes, a pooled analysis of 2 studies did not find a significant between-group difference in mean pulmonary arterial hypertension (pooled treatment effect = -2.94 mm Hg, 95% CI = -9.28 to 3.40) and a pooled analysis of 3 studies did not find a significant difference between groups in mean arterial pressure (pooled treatment effect = -3.55 mm Hg, 95% CI = -11.86 to 4.76). Insufficient data were available for pooled analyses of other outcomes. The authors noted the lack of data on long-term mortality, length of stay in an intensive care unit or hospital, and neurodevelopmental disability and also had concerns about methodological quality of studies, sample size and heterogeneity between studies. These results do not support a benefit for NO treatment for this patient group, but the wide confidence intervals around the pooled treatment effects reflects the relatively small amount of data available on each outcome.

The trial with the largest sample size was published by Miller and colleagues in Australia in 2000. (14) The study included 124 infants (median age 3 months) who were candidates for corrective heart surgery. Eligibility requirements included presence of congenital heart lesions, high pulmonary flow, pressure or both, and objective evidence of pulmonary hypertension in the immediate preoperative period. Participants were randomized to receive inhaled nitric oxide gas 10 ppm (n =63) or placebo nitrogen gas (n =61) after surgery until just before extubation. Randomization was stratified by presence (45/124, 36%) or absence (79/124, 64%) of Down’s syndrome. The primary outcome was reduction of pulmonary hypertensive crisis (PHTC) episodes, defined as a pulmonary/systemic artery pressure ratio more than 0.75. Episodes were classified as major if there was a fall in systemic artery pressure of at least 20% and/or a fall in transcutaneous oxygen saturation to less than 90%. Episodes were classified as minor if the systemic artery pressure and transcutaneous oxygen saturation remained stable. The study found that infants who received inhaled nitric oxide after surgery had significantly fewer PHTC (median =4) than those receiving placebo (median =7); unadjusted relative risk =0.66, 95% CI =0.59 to 0.74, p <0.001.

Among secondary outcomes, the median time until eligibility for extubation was significantly shorter in the inhaled nitric oxide than placebo group, 80 versus 112 hours respectively, p =0.019. There were 5 deaths in the inhaled nitric oxide group and 3 deaths in the placebo group; this difference was not statistically significant, p -0.49. Similarly, there was not a significant difference in median time to discharge from intensive care, 138 hours in the nitric oxide group and 162 hours in the placebo group, p >0.05. This trial does report a reduction in pulmonary hypertensive crisis episodes, but the changes in this physiologic outcome did not result in improvements in survival or other clinical outcomes. The study was likely to have been underpowered to detect differences in these more clinically relevant secondary outcomes.

Ongoing Clinical Trials

Inhaled nitric oxide for the treatment of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in preterm infants (15): This multicenter double-blind randomized trial, sponsored by INO Therapeutics, is comparing inhaled nitric oxide to placebo in preterm infants who require intubation during days 5 to 14 after birth. The primary outcome will be survival without bronchopulmonary dysplasia at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age. The estimated date of study completion is May 2012.

Examining the use of non-invasive inhaled nitric oxide to reduce chronic lung disease in premature infants (16): This multicenter double-blind randomized trial, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is examining whether early treatment with low-dose inhaled nitric oxide reduces the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pulmonary hypertension and death in premature infants. It includes infants with a gestational age of less than 34 weeks who have a birthweight of 500 to 1250 grams. The estimated study completion date is December 2011.

Inhaled nitric oxide and neuroprotection in premature infants (NOVA2) (17): This is a double-blind single-center randomized trial and is sponsored by the University of Chicago. The study is examining whether inhaled nitric oxide improves neurological outcomes in premature infants born at less than 31 weeks’ gestation with a birthweight of less than 1500 grams. The estimated study completion date is January 2012.

The Meta-Analysis of Preterm Patients on inhaled Nitric Oxide (MAPPiNO) Collaboration is conducting a pooled analysis of individual patient data from existing randomized controlled trials. (18) In a description of the study published in March 2010, the authors state that the study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of inhaled nitric oxide in premature infants receiving assisted ventilation and to identify any patients or treatment characteristics that may be associated with benefit from inhaled nitric oxide treatment. As of June 2011, this study has not been published.

Clinical Input Received Through Physician Specialty Societies and Academic Medical Centers
In response to requests, input was received through 4 Physician Specialty Societies and 5 Academic Medical Centers while this policy was under review in 2010. While the various Physician Specialty Societies and Academic Medical Centers may collaborate with and make recommendations during this process, through the provision of appropriate reviewers, input received does not represent an endorsement or position statement by the Physician Specialty Societies or Academic Medical Centers, unless otherwise noted. The clinical input was consistent in its agreement with the policy statements on treatment of hypoxic respiratory failure in neonates born at 34 or more weeks of gestation and adults with ARDS and was mixed for the statement on premature neonates born at less than 34 weeks’ gestation. Several reviewers noted that a large meta-analysis of individual patient data from studies conducted with premature infants and an additional randomized trial in this population are both underway. There was no consensus or near-consensus among reviewers on potential additional medically necessary indications for inhaled nitric oxide therapy.

Summary
There is evidence from a systematic review of randomized controlled trials that inhaled nitric oxide improves the net health outcome in hypoxic term or near-term infants. Other systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials did not find evidence of a net benefit from inhaled nitric oxide among preterm infants when used in the first 3 days of life for severe respiratory failure or after the first 3 days of life to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia. For preterm infants, the largest trial published to date had 800 participants and did not find that use of inhaled nitric oxide in preterm infants improved survival without bronchopulmonary dysplasia or survival without brain injury. In children and adults with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure, a systematic review of randomized controlled trials did not find that inhaled nitric oxide treatment improved the net health outcome; there was no significant effect on all-cause mortality or duration of mechanical ventilation. There was no significant difference in adverse events overall, but there was a significantly higher rate of renal impairment with inhaled nitric oxide treatment. Finally, for postoperative management of children with congenital heart disease, one RCT reported an improvement in pulmonary hypertensive episodes, but a systematic review of RCTs found no significant mortality reduction and a paucity of data on other outcomes. Thus, inhaled nitric oxide may be considered medically necessary to treat term and near-term infants and investigational for other indications.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

In 2011, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Development Conference Statement on inhaled nitric oxide for premature infants was published. (19) The statement was based on the AHRQ-sponsored systematic review of the literature, described above. (4) Conclusions include:

“Taken as a whole, the available evidence does not support use of iNO (inhaled NO) in early-routine, early-rescue, or later-rescue regimens in the care of premature infants of < 34 weeks’ gestation who require respiratory support.”

“There are rare clinical situations, including pulmonary hypertension or hypoplasia, that have been inadequately studied in which iNO may have benefit in infants of < 34 weeks’ gestation. In such situations, clinicians should communicate with families regarding the current evidence on its risks and benefits as well as remaining uncertainties.”

In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations regarding the use of inhaled nitric oxide in pediatric patients. (20) The recommendations were reaffirmed on April 1, 2010. They stated that “Inhaled nitric oxide therapy should be given using the indications, dosing, administration and monitoring guidelines outlined on the product label.” This recommendation is consistent with the policy statement. In addition, the AAP recommended the following:

  • Inhaled nitric oxide should be initiated in centers with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation capability.
  • Centers that provide inhaled nitric oxide therapy should provide comprehensive long-term medical and neurodevelopmental follow-up.
  • Centers that provide inhaled nitric oxide therapy should establish prospective data collection for treatment time course, toxic effects, treatment failure, and use of alternative therapies and outcomes.
  • Administration of inhaled nitric oxide for indications other than those approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or in other neonatal populations, including compassionate use, remains experimental.

The policy statement of the AAP does not address the use of inhaled nitric oxide in premature infants.

Medicare National Coverage
No national coverage determination.

 

References:

  1. Finer NN, Barrington KJ. Nitric oxide for respiratory failure in infants born at or near term. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006; (4):CD000399.
  2. Golombek SG, Young JN. Efficacy of inhaled nitric oxide for hypoxic respiratory failure in term and late preterm infants by baseline severity of illness: a pooled analysis of three clinical trials. Clin Ther 2010; 32(5):939-48.
  3. Barrington KJ, Finer NN. Inhaled nitric oxide for preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007; (3):CD000509.
  4. Donohue PK, Gilmore MM, Cristofalo E et al. Inhaled nitric oxide in preterm infants: a systematic review. Pediatrics 2011; 127(2):e414-22.
  5. Mercier J-C, Hummler H, Durrmeyer X et al. Inhaled nitric oxide for prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature babies (EUNO): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2010; 376(9738):346-54.
  6. Schreiber MD, Gin-Mestan K, Marks JD et al. Inhaled nitric oxide in premature infants with the respiratory distress syndrome. N Engl J Med 2003; 349(22):2099-107.
  7. Van Meurs KP, Wright LL, Ehrenkranz RA et al. Inhaled nitric oxide for premature infants with severe respiratory failure. N Engl J Med 2005; 353(1):13-22.
  8. Hibbs AM, Walsh MC, Martin RJ et al. One-year respiratory outcomes of preterm infants enrolled in the Nitric Oxide (to Prevent) Chronic Lung Disease trial. J Pediatr 2008; 153(4):525-9.
  9. Ballard RA, Truog WE, Cnaan A et al. Inhaled nitric oxide in preterm infants undergoing mechanical ventilation. N Engl J Med 2006; 355(4):343-53.
  10. Afshari A, Brok J, Moller AM et al. Inhaled nitric oxide for acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute lung injury in adults and children: a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. Anesth Analg 2011; 112(6):1411-21.
  11. Sokol J, Jacobs SE, Bohn D. Inhaled nitric oxide for acute hypoxemic respiratory failure in children and adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2003; (1):CD002787.
  12. Taylor RW, Zimmerman JL, Dellinger RP et al. Low-dose inhaled nitric oxide in patients with acute lung injury: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2004; 291(13):1603-9.
  13. Bizzarro M, Gross I. Inhaled nitric oxide for the postoperative management of pulmonary hypertension in infants and children with congenital heart disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005; (4):CD005055.
  14. Miller OI, Tang SF, Keech A et al. Inhaled nitric oxide and prevention of pulmonary hypertension after congenital heart surgery: a randomised double-blind trial. Lancet 2000; 356(9240):1464-9.
  15. Inhaled nitric oxide for the treatment of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in preterm infants (NCT000931632). Sponsored by INO therapeutics. Last updated April 25, 2011. Available online at ClinicalTrials.gov. Last accessed June 2011.
  16. Examining the use of non-invasive inhaled nitric oxide to reduce chronic lung disease in premature newborns. Sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Last updated March 1, 2011. Available online at ClinicalTrials.gov. Last accessed June 2011.
  17. Inhaled nitric oxide and neuroprotection in premature infants (NOVA2). Sponsored by University of Chicago. Last updated February 4, 2010. Available online at ClinicalTrials.gov. Last accessed June 2011.
  18. Askie LM, Ballard RA, Cutter G et al. Inhaled nitric oxide in preterm infants: a systematic review and individual patient data meta-analysis. BMC Pediatr 2010; 10:15.
  19. Cole FS, Alleyne C, Barks JD et al. NIH consensus development conference statement: inhaled nitric oxide therapy for premature infants. Pediatrics 2011; 127(2):363-9.
  20. American Academy of Pediatrics. Use of inhaled nitric oxide. Pediatrics 2000; 106(2 pt 1):344-5.

 

Codes

Number

Description

CPT    No specific CPT code 
ICD-9 Procedure  00.12 Administration of inhaled nitric oxide 
ICD-9 Diagnosis  769  Respiratory distress syndrome 
   770.84 Respiratory distress syndrome of newborn
ICD-10-CM (effective 10/1/13) P22.0 Respiratory distress syndrome of newborn
  P28.5 Respiratory failure of newborn
ICD-10-PCS (effective 10/1/13) ICD-10-PCS would only be used if the procedure is done inpatient.
   3E0F7SD Introduction, respiratory tract, via natural or artificial opening, gas, nitric oxide
Type of Service  Anesthesiology 
Place of Service  Intensive Care 


Index

Inhaled Nitric Oxide, Treatment of Respiratory Failure
Nitric Oxide, Inhaled, Treatment of Respiratory Failure
Respiratory Failure, Nitric Oxide  


Policy History

Date Action Reason
08/18/00 Add to Therapy section New policy
12/15/00 Replace policy Revised to include information regarding BlueCard or
 
National Account
10/08/02 Replace policy Policy updated with new references; policy statement unchanged
02/25/04 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review; references added, additional discussion of inhaled nitric oxide in premature infants. No change in policy statement
03/15/05 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review; no change in policy statement. Reference number 9 added
03/7/06 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review; no change in policy statement. Further discussion of inhaled NO in premature infants included. References renumbered, reference numbers 7–9 added
09/11/08 Replace policy  Policy updated with literature review; no change in policy statements. Reference numbers 19-23 added
07/08/10 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through May 2010; clinical input reviewed; no change in policy statements. Rationale substantially re-written; Reference numbers 1, 2, and 9-11 added; other references renumbered/removed.
7/14/11 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through May 2011. Title changed to “Inhaled Nitric Oxide.” Medically necessary statement changed to “more than 34 weeks of gestation” to be consistent with age range of FDA-approved indication. Investigational policy statement changed to “less than or equal to 34 weeks of gestation” and several additional indications were specifically mentioned: adults and children with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure and postoperative management of pulmonary hypertension in children with congenital heart disease. Reference numbers 2, 4-5, 10-11, 13, 14, 16, 17 and 19 added; other references renumbered/removed