Objectives: Limited evidence is available regarding the role of high-flow nasal oxygen in the management of acute hypoxemic respiratory failure secondary to coronavirus disease 2019. Our objective was to characterize outcomes associated with high-flow nasal oxygen use in critically ill adult patients with coronavirus disease 2019-associated acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.
Design: Observational cohort study between March 18, 2020, and June 3, 2020.
Setting: Nine ICUs at three university-affiliated hospitals in Philadelphia, PA.
Patients: Adult ICU patients with confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 infection admitted with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.
Measurements and main results: Of 266 coronavirus disease 2019 ICU admissions during the study period, 124 (46.6%) received some form of noninvasive respiratory support. After exclusions, we analyzed 83 patients who were treated with high-flow nasal oxygen as a first-line therapy at or near the time of ICU admission. Patients were predominantly male (63.9%). The most common comorbidity was hypertension (60.2%). Progression to invasive mechanical ventilation was common, occurring in 58 patients (69.9%). Of these, 30 (51.7%) were intubated on the same day as ICU admission. As of June 30, 2020, hospital mortality rate was 32.9% and the median hospital length of stay was 15 days. Among survivors, the most frequent discharge disposition was home (51.0%). In comparing patients who received high-flow nasal oxygen alone (n = 54) with those who received high-flow nasal oxygen in conjunction with noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation via face mask (n = 29), there were no differences in the rates of endotracheal intubation or other clinical and utilization outcomes.
Conclusions: We observed an overall high usage of high-flow nasal oxygen in our cohort of critically ill patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure secondary to coronavirus disease 2019. Rates of endotracheal intubation and mortality in this cohort were on par with and certainly not higher than other published series. These findings should prompt further considerations regarding the use of high-flow nasal oxygen in the management algorithm for coronavirus disease 2019-associated acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.
Keywords: adult; coronavirus; critical care; high-flow nasal oxygen; intubation, intratracheal; noninvasive ventilation; respiratory distress syndrome.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.