Clinical features, ventilatory management, and outcome of ARDS caused by COVID-19 are similar to other causes of ARDS

Intensive Care Med. 2020 Dec;46(12):2200-2211. doi: 10.1007/s00134-020-06192-2. Epub 2020 Jul 29.


Purpose: The main characteristics of mechanically ventilated ARDS patients affected with COVID-19, and the adherence to lung-protective ventilation strategies are not well known. We describe characteristics and outcomes of confirmed ARDS in COVID-19 patients managed with invasive mechanical ventilation (MV).

Methods: This is a multicenter, prospective, observational study in consecutive, mechanically ventilated patients with ARDS (as defined by the Berlin criteria) affected with with COVID-19 (confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in nasal or pharyngeal swab specimens), admitted to a network of 36 Spanish and Andorran intensive care units (ICUs) between March 12 and June 1, 2020. We examined the clinical features, ventilatory management, and clinical outcomes of COVID-19 ARDS patients, and compared some results with other relevant studies in non-COVID-19 ARDS patients.

Results: A total of 742 patients were analysed with complete 28-day outcome data: 128 (17.1%) with mild, 331 (44.6%) with moderate, and 283 (38.1%) with severe ARDS. At baseline, defined as the first day on invasive MV, median (IQR) values were: tidal volume 6.9 (6.3-7.8) ml/kg predicted body weight, positive end-expiratory pressure 12 (11-14) cmH2O. Values of respiratory system compliance 35 (27-45) ml/cmH2O, plateau pressure 25 (22-29) cmH2O, and driving pressure 12 (10-16) cmH2O were similar to values from non-COVID-19 ARDS patients observed in other studies. Recruitment maneuvers, prone position and neuromuscular blocking agents were used in 79%, 76% and 72% of patients, respectively. The risk of 28-day mortality was lower in mild ARDS [hazard ratio (RR) 0.56 (95% CI 0.33-0.93), p = 0.026] and moderate ARDS [hazard ratio (RR) 0.69 (95% CI 0.47-0.97), p = 0.035] when compared to severe ARDS. The 28-day mortality was similar to other observational studies in non-COVID-19 ARDS patients.

Conclusions: In this large series, COVID-19 ARDS patients have features similar to other causes of ARDS, compliance with lung-protective ventilation was high, and the risk of 28-day mortality increased with the degree of ARDS severity.

Trial registration: NCT04368975.

Keywords: Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Coronavirus; Mechanical ventilation; Outcome.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • COVID-19 / physiopathology*
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • Correlation of Data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spain
  • Statistics, Nonparametric

Associated data