Novel coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) has led to over 6 million fatalities globally. An estimated 75% of COVID-19 patients who require critical care admission develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) needing invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) and/or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Due to prolonged ventilation requirements, these patients often also require tracheostomy. We performed a review of clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients on ECMO at a high-volume tertiary care center in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
We performed a retrospective case series, including 24 adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who required IMV, veno-venous (ECMO), and tracheostomy. All patients were included from April to December 2021. We extracted demographic and clinical variables pertaining to the tracheostomy procedure and ECMO therapy. We performed descriptive statistical analyses. This study was approved by the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (14217-C).
We included 24 consecutive patients with COVID-19 who required tracheostomy while undergoing ECMO therapy. The mean age was 49.4 years [standard deviation (SD): 7.33], the majority of patients were male (75%), with mean body mass index of 32 (SD: 8.81). Overall mortality rate was 33.3%. Percutaneous tracheostomy was performed most frequently (83.3%) and, similar to open tracheostomy, was associated with a low rate of perioperative bleeding complications. Within surviving patients, the mean time to IMV weaning and decannulation was 60.2 (SD: 24.6) and 49.4 days (SD: 21.8), respectively.
Percutaneous tracheostomy appears to be safe in COVID-19 patients on ECMO and holding anticoagulation 24 hours prior to and after tracheostomy may limit bleeding events in these patients.