Adv Respir Med. 2020;88(3):245-266. doi: 10.5603/ARM.2020.0109.
In 2019, a pandemic began due to infection with a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. In many cases, this coronavirus leads to the development of the COVID-19 disease. Lung damage in the course of this disease often leads to acute hypoxic respiratory failure and may eventually lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Respiratory failure as a result of COVID-19 can develop very quickly and a small percent of those infected will die because of it. There is currently no treatment for COVID-19, therefore the key therapeutic intervention centers around the symptomatic treatment of respiratory failure. The main therapeutic goal is to main-tain gas exchange, mainly oxygenation, at an appropriate level and prevent the intensification of changes in the lung parenchyma. Depending on the severity of hypoxemia different techniques can be used to improve oxygenation. Medical staff dealing with COVID-19 patients should be familiar with both, methods used to treat respiratory failure and the epidemiological risks arising from their use. In some patients, conventional (passive) oxygen therapy alone is sufficient. In patients with worsening respiratory failure high flow nasal oxygen therapy (HFNOT) may be effective. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and non-invasive ventilation (NIV) methods can be used to a limited extent. With further disease progression, invasive ventilation must be used and in special situations, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can also be administered. The authors of this article set themselves the goal of presenting the most current knowledge about the epidemiology and patho-physiology of respiratory failure in COVID-19, as well as the methods of its treatment. Given the dynamics of the developing pandemic, this is not an easy task as new scientific data is presented almost every day. However, we believe the knowledge contained in this study will help doctors care for patients with COVID-19. The main target audience of this study is not so much pneumonologists or intensivists who have extensive experience in the application of the techniques discussed here, but rather doctors of other specializations who must master new skills in order to help patients during the time of a pandemic.