Awake Proning: A Necessary Evil During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Link to article at PubMed

Cureus. 2020 Jul 3;12(7):e8989. doi: 10.7759/cureus.8989.


The spread of COVID-19 has been exponential throughout the globe. Though only a small percentage of infected individuals reach the critical stage of the disease, i.e., acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), this percentage represents a significant number of patients that can overwhelm the healthcare system. Patients presenting with ARDS need mechanical ventilation, as their lungs are unable to oxygenate blood on their own due to fluid accumulation. One way to manage this excess pressure of fluid build-up around the lung tissues is to relieve the dorsal alveoli by prompting the patient to lie face down on the stomach; this is called awake proning. It is a procedure that is directed towards the recruitment of lung parenchyma when infected with pneumonia or when the condition has worsened into ARDS. This helps in relieving the pressure from the dorsal lung surface that has markedly higher perfusion than the ventral surface. Awake proning delays the use of mechanical ventilation and facilitates the patients with severe ARDS or severe pneumonia in maintaining the supply of oxygen to the body tissues. Since medical institutes are overburdened and limited ventilators are available, awake proning can reduce not only the burden on hospitals but also decrease the need for ventilators.

PMID:32775071 | PMC:PMC7402434 | DOI:10.7759/cureus.8989

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