J Intensive Care Med. 2021 Mar 11:8850666211000601. doi: 10.1177/08850666211000601. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Many patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) need mechanical ventilation secondary to acute respiratory distress syndrome. Information on the respiratory system mechanical characteristics of this disease is limited. The aim of this study is to describe the respiratory system mechanical properties of ventilated COVID-19 patients.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PATIENTS: Patients consecutively admitted to the medical intensive care unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, USA, from April 19 to May 1, 2020, were prospectively studied; final date of follow-up was May 1, 2020.
MEASUREMENTS: At the time of first patient contact, ventilator information was collected including mode, settings, peak airway pressure, plateau pressure, and total positive end expiratory pressure. Indices of airflow resistance and respiratory system compliance were calculated and analyzed.
MAIN RESULTS: The mean age of the patients was 58 years. 6 out of 12 (50%) patients were female. Of the 21 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients on invasive mechanical ventilation, 9 patients who were actively breathing on the ventilator were excluded. All the patients included were on volume-control mode. Mean [±standard deviation] ventilator indices were: resistive pressure 19 [±4] cmH2O, airway resistance 20 [±4] cmH2O/L/s, and respiratory system static compliance 39 [±16] ml/cmH2O. These values are consistent with abnormally elevated resistance to airflow and reduced respiratory system compliance. Analysis of flow waveform graphics revealed a pattern consistent with airflow obstruction in all patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Severe respiratory failure due to COVID-19 is regularly associated with airflow obstruction.