High-Flow, Noninvasive Ventilation and Awake (Nonintubation) Proning in Patients With COVID-2019 With Respiratory Failure

Suhail Raoof, Stefano Nava, Charles Carpati, Nicholas S Hill
Chest 2020 July 15
The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic will be remembered for the rapidity with which it spread, the morbidity and mortality associated with it, and the paucity of evidence-based management guidelines. One of the major concerns of hospitals was to limit spread of infection to health-care workers. Because the virus is spread mainly by respiratory droplets and aerosolized particles, procedures that may potentially disperse viral particles, the so-called "aerosol-generating procedures" were avoided whenever possible. Included in this category were noninvasive ventilation (NIV), high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC), and awake (nonintubated) proning. Accordingly, at many health-care facilities, patients who had increasing oxygen requirements were emergently intubated and mechanically ventilated to avoid exposure to aerosol-generating procedures. With experience, physicians realized that mortality of invasively ventilated patients was high and it was not easy to extubate many of these patients. This raised the concern that HFNC and NIV were being underutilized to avoid intubation and to facilitate extubation. In this article, we attempt to separate fact from fiction and perception from reality pertaining to the aerosol dispersion with NIV, HFNC, and awake proning. We describe precautions that hospitals and health-care providers must take to mitigate risks with these devices. Finally, we take a practical approach in describing how we use the three techniques, including the common indications, contraindications, and practical aspects of application.

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