Prone positioning for patients intubated for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) secondary to COVID-19: a retrospective observational cohort study

Tyler T Weiss, Flor Cerda, J Brady Scott, Ramandeep Kaur, Sarah Sungurlu, Sara H Mirza, Amnah A Alolaiwat, Ramandeep Kaur, Ashley E Augustynovich, Jie Li
British Journal of Anaesthesia 2020 October 10

BACKGROUND: The role of repeated prone positioning in intubated subjects with acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by COVID-19 remains unclear.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective observational cohort study of critically ill intubated patients with COVID-19 who were placed in the prone position between March 18, 2020 and March 31, 2020. Exclusion criteria were pregnancy, reintubation, and previous prone positioning at a referring hospital. Patients were followed up until hospital discharge. The primary outcome was oxygenation assessed by partial pressure of oxygen/fraction of inspired oxygen ratio (Pao2 /Fio2 ) ratio. A positive response to proning was defined as an increase in Pao2 /Fio2 ratio ≥20%. Treatment failure of prone positioning was defined as death or requirement for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

RESULTS: Forty-two subjects (29 males; age: 59 [52-69] yr) were eligible for analysis. Nine subjects were placed in the prone position only once, with 25 requiring prone positioning on three or more occasions. A total of 31/42 (74%) subjects survived to discharge, with five requiring ECMO; 11/42 (26%) subjects died. After the first prone positioning session, Pao2 /Fio2 (mean (standard deviation)) ratio increased from 17.9 kPa (7.2) to 28.2 kPa (12.2) (P<0.01). After the initial prone positioning session, subjects who were discharged from hospital were more likely to have an improvement in Pao2 /Fio2 ratio ≥20%, compared with those requiring ECMO or who died.

CONCLUSION: Patients with COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome frequently responded to initial prone positioning with improved oxygenation. Subsequent prone positioning in subjects discharged from hospital was associated with greater improvements in oxygenation.

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