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Membranes (Basel) ; 11(7)2021 Jun 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1288953


COVID-19 creates an impressive burden for intensive care units in terms of need for advanced respiratory care, with a huge number of acute respiratory distress syndromes (ARDS) requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation. In some cases, this proves to be insufficient, with a refractory respiratory failure calling for an extracorporeal approach (veno-venous ECMO). In this scenario, most of these patients need an early tracheostomy procedure to be carried out, which creates the risk of distribution of aerosol particles, possibly leading to personnel infection. The use of apneic tracheostomy has been proposed for COVID-19 patients, but in case of ECMO it may produce lung derecruitment, severe hypoxemia, and sudden worsening of respiratory mechanics. We developed an apneic tracheostomy technique and applied it in over 32 patients supported by veno-venous ECMO. We present data showing the safety and feasibility of this technique in terms of patient care and personnel protection. Gas exchange and pH did not show statistically significant changes after the tracheostomy, nor did respiratory mechanics data or the need for inspiratory pressure and FiO2. The use of apneic tracheostomy was a safe option for patient care during ECMO and reduced the possibility of virus spreading.