Crit Care. 2022 Apr 29;26(1):118. doi: 10.1186/s13054-022-03937-x.
BACKGROUND: Whether prone position (PP) improves clinical outcomes in COVID-19 pneumonia treated with noninvasive ventilation (NIV) is unknown. We evaluated the effect of early PP on 28-day NIV failure, intubation and death in noninvasively ventilated patients with moderate-to-severe acute hypoxemic respiratory failure due to COVID-19 pneumonia and explored physiological mechanisms underlying treatment response.
METHODS: In this controlled non-randomized trial, 81 consecutive prospectively enrolled patients with COVID-19 pneumonia and moderate-to-severe (paO2/FiO2 ratio < 200) acute hypoxemic respiratory failure treated with early PP + NIV during Dec 2020-May 2021were compared with 162 consecutive patients with COVID-19 pneumonia matched for age, mortality risk, severity of illness and paO2/FiO2 ratio at admission, treated with conventional (supine) NIV during Apr 2020-Dec 2020 at HUMANITAS Gradenigo Subintensive Care Unit, after propensity score adjustment for multiple baseline and treatment-related variables to limit confounding. Lung ultrasonography (LUS) was performed at baseline and at day 5. Ventilatory parameters, physiological dead space indices (DSIs) and circulating inflammatory and procoagulative biomarkers were monitored during the initial 7 days.
RESULTS: In the intention-to-treat analysis. NIV failure occurred in 14 (17%) of PP patients versus 70 (43%) of controls [HR = 0.32, 95% CI 0.21-0.50; p < 0.0001]; intubation in 8 (11%) of PP patients versus 44 (30%) of controls [HR = 0.31, 95% CI 0.18-0.55; p = 0.0012], death in 10 (12%) of PP patients versus 59 (36%) of controls [HR = 0.27, 95% CI 0.17-0.44; p < 0.0001]. The effect remained significant within different categories of severity of hypoxemia (paO2/FiO2 < 100 or paO2/FiO2 100-199 at admission). Adverse events were rare and evenly distributed. Compared with controls, PP therapy was associated with improved oxygenation and DSIs, reduced global LUS severity indices largely through enhanced reaeration of dorso-lateral lung regions, and an earlier decline in inflammatory markers and D-dimer. In multivariate analysis, day 1 CO2 response outperformed O2 response as a predictor of LUS changes, NIV failure, intubation and death.
CONCLUSION: Early prolonged PP is safe and is associated with lower NIV failure, intubation and death rates in noninvasively ventilated patients with COVID-19-related moderate-to-severe hypoxemic respiratory failure. Early dead space reduction and reaeration of dorso-lateral lung regions predicted clinical outcomes in our study population.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN23016116 . Retrospectively registered on May 1, 2021.