Anaesthesist. 2021 May 7:1-6. doi: 10.1007/s00101-021-00973-0. Online ahead of print.
If noninvasive ventilation (NIV or high-flow CPAP) fails in severe cases of COVID-19, escalation of treatment with orotracheal intubation and intermitted prone positioning is provided as standard care. The present case reports show two COVID-19 patients with severe refractory hypoxemia despite NIV treatment during the first wave (first half year 2020) and the resulting influence on the treatment regimen during the second wave (since October 2020) of the pandemic. Both patients (aged 63 years and 77 years) voluntarily positioned themselves on the side or in a prone position without prior sedation and oral intubation. Positional treatment promptly improved the arterial oxygenation level. The oxygenation index improved in the following days with continued NIV and intermittent prone and side position. The recovered patients were transferred from the intensive care unit at days 5 and 14, respectively after admission. The case reports, along with other reports, show that prone or lateral positioning may be important in the treatment of SARS-CoV‑2 pneumonia in awake and not yet intubated patients.