BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has high mortality rate mainly stemming from acute respiratory distress leading to respiratory failure (ARF). Aim of the study was to evaluate the management of severe ARF due to COVID-19 pneumonia using noninvasive ventilatory support (NIVS), studying safety and effectiveness of NIVS. METHODS: This is a retrospective, multicenter study. Primary outcomes were NIVS failure with intubation rate and hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes were hospital stay and factors related to NIVS failure and mortality. These outcomes were compared with patients intubated and admitted to ICU. RESULTS: One hundred sixty-two patients were hospitalized because of severe respiratory failure (PaO2/FiO2 ratio <250). One hundred thirty-eight patients were admitted to Respiratory Intermediate Care Unit (RICU) for a NIVS trial. One hundred patients were treated successfully with NIVS (74.5%); 38 failed NIVS trial (27.5%). In-hospital mortality was 23.18% in RICU group and 30.55% in ICU group. Patients with NIVS failure were older, had a lower number of lymphocytes, a higher IL-6, lower PaO2, PaC O2, PaO2/FiO2 ratio, higher respiratory rate (RR) and heart rate at admission and lower PaO2, and PaO2/FiO2 ratio and higher RR after 1-6 hours. Multivariate analysis identified higher age, C-reactive protein as well as RR after 1-6 hours and PaO2/FiO2 ratio after 1-6 hours as an independent predictor mortality. CONCLUSIONS: NIVS is a safe and effective strategy in the treatment of severe ARF due to COVID-19 related pneumonia, that reduces mortality and length of hospital stay in the carefully selected patients.
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