Background: Advanced respiratory support modalities such as non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NiPPV) and heated and humidified high flow nasal canula (HFNC) served as useful alternatives to invasive mechanical ventilatory support for acute respiratory failure (ARF) during the peak of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike NiPPV, HFNC is a newer modality and its role in the treatment of patients with severe ARF is not yet clearly defined. Furthermore, the characteristics of responders versus non-responders to HFNC have not been determined. Although recent evidence indicates that many patients with ARF treated with HFNC survive without needing intubation, those who fail and are subsequently intubated have worse outcomes. Given that prolonged use of HFNC in patients with ARF might exacerbate patient self-inflicted lung injury, we hypothesized that among those patients with ARF due to COVID-19 pneumonia, prolonged HFNC beyond 24 h before intubation would be associated with increased in-hospital mortality. Methods: This was a retrospective, multicenter, observational cohort study of 2720 patients treated for ARF secondary to SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pneumonia and initially managed with HFNC within the Banner Health system during the period from March 1st, 2020, to July 31st, 2021. In the subgroup of patients for went from HFNC to IMV, we assessed the effect of the duration of HFNC prior to intubation on mortality. Results: 1392 (51%) were successfully treated with HFNC alone and 1328 (49%) failed HFNC and were intubated (HFNC to IMV). When adjusted for the covariates, HFNC duration less than 24 h prior to intubation was significantly associated with reduced mortality. Conclusions: Among patients with ARF due to COVID-19 pneumonia who fail HFNC, delay of intubation beyond 24 h is associated with increased mortality.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine