Crit Care. 2021 Feb 11;25(1):58. doi: 10.1186/s13054-021-03469-w.
PURPOSE: Whether the use of high-flow nasal oxygen in adult patients with COVID-19 associated acute respiratory failure improves clinically relevant outcomes remains unclear. We thus sought to assess the effect of high-flow nasal oxygen on ventilator-free days, compared to early initiation of invasive mechanical ventilation, on adult patients with COVID-19.
METHODS: We conducted a multicentre cohort study using a prospectively collected database of patients with COVID-19 associated acute respiratory failure admitted to 36 Spanish and Andorran intensive care units (ICUs). Main exposure was the use of high-flow nasal oxygen (conservative group), while early invasive mechanical ventilation (within the first day of ICU admission; early intubation group) served as the comparator. The primary outcome was ventilator-free days at 28 days. ICU length of stay and all-cause in-hospital mortality served as secondary outcomes. We used propensity score matching to adjust for measured confounding.
RESULTS: Out of 468 eligible patients, a total of 122 matched patients were included in the present analysis (61 for each group). When compared to early intubation, the use of high-flow nasal oxygen was associated with an increase in ventilator-free days (mean difference: 8.0 days; 95% confidence interval (CI): 4.4 to 11.7 days) and a reduction in ICU length of stay (mean difference: - 8.2 days; 95% CI - 12.7 to - 3.6 days). No difference was observed in all-cause in-hospital mortality between groups (odds ratio: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.25 to 1.64).
CONCLUSIONS: The use of high-flow nasal oxygen upon ICU admission in adult patients with COVID-19 related acute hypoxemic respiratory failure may lead to an increase in ventilator-free days and a reduction in ICU length of stay, when compared to early initiation of invasive mechanical ventilation. Future studies should confirm our findings.