Pediatric oxygen therapy: A review and update

Brian K. Walsh, Craig D. Smallwood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Oxygen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is utilized by the body for respiration. Oxygen has played a major role in respiratory care. Oxygen therapy is useful in treating hypoxemia but is often thought of as a benign therapy. After many years of study, we have learned a great deal of the benefits and potential risk of this powerful drug. Today oxygen gas is cheap, widely available, and easy to administer. Oxygen delivery devices vary in cost from a few cents for a simple nasal cannula to $25-$50 for some humidified systems. Undoubtedly, oxygen therapy is an important tool and has saved many lives and improved others. However, oxygen therapy risk, cost, and benefits should be considered in the same way as other drugs and titrated to a measured end point to avoid excessive or inadequate dosing. Withholding oxygen can have a detrimental effect, yet continuing to provide oxygen therapy when it is no longer indicated can prolong hospitalization and increase the cost of care. This comprehensive review begins with an assessment of need and a review of physiologic effects, potential toxicities, and common delivery devices, and it ends with advances in oxygen therapy with a focus on the pediatric patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-661
Number of pages17
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Gas therapy
  • Oxygen
  • Oxygen delivery
  • Oxygen review
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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