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Air leak syndromes (Pneumomediastinum, pneumothorax, and subcutaneous emphysema) in critically ill COVID-19 patients – Prevalence, risk factors, and outcome

1 Department of Critical Care, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Radiodiagnosis, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Pritish John Korula,
Department of Critical Care, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu – 632004
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_82_22

Background: A high incidence of air leak syndromes (ALSs) has been reported in critically ill coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, which affects disease outcome. Objective: To evaluate the incidence, outcome, and risk factors associated with ALSs in critically ill COVID-19 patients receiving invasive or non-invasive positive pressure ventilation. Result: Out of 79 patients, 16 (20.2%) patients had ALS. The mean age of the ALS group was 48.6 ± 13.1 years as compared to 52.8 ± 13.1 (p = 0.260) years in the non-ALS group. The study group had a lower median body mass index (25.9 kg/m2 vs 27.6 kg/m2, P = 0.096), a higher D-dimer value (1179.5 vs 762.0, P = 0.024), lower saturation (74% vs 88%, P = 0.006), and a lower PF ratio (134 vs 189, P = 0.028) at presentation as compared to the non-ALS group. Patients with ALS had received a higher median positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) (10 cm vs 8 cm of water, P = 0.005). The pressure support, highest driving pressure, and peak airway pressure were not significantly different in the two groups. The ALS group had a significantly longer duration of hospital stay (17.5 vs 9 days, P = 0.003). Multiple logistic regression analyses indicated that patients who received inj. dexamethasone were less likely to develop ALS (OR: 12.6 (95% CI 1.6-95.4), P = 0.015). Conclusion: A high incidence of ALS is present in critically ill COVID-19 patients. High inflammatory parameters, severe hypoxia at presentation, and use of high PEEP are significant risk factors associated with ALS. The risk of developing ALS was lower in patients who received inj. dexamethasone.

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