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VOLUME 25 , ISSUE 12 ( December, 2021 ) > List of Articles


Risk Factors, Clinical Characteristics, and Outcome of Air Leak Syndrome in COVID-19: A Systematic Review

Keywords : Air leak, COVID-19, Pneumomediastinum, Pneumothorax, Subcutaneous emphysema

Citation Information : Risk Factors, Clinical Characteristics, and Outcome of Air Leak Syndrome in COVID-19: A Systematic Review. Indian J Crit Care Med 2021; 25 (12):1434-1445.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-24053

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 17-12-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; The Author(s).


Introduction: Air leak consisting of pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, and subcutaneous emphysema has been described as one of the complications of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) infection affecting disease course and outcome. We aimed to conduct a systematic review of published literature to highlight the risk factors, types, and outcomes in COVID-19. Method: A systematic search of PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and Google Scholar was performed from November 1, 2019, to February 28, 2021. Seventy-one studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria and 136 adult patients were included in the final analysis. Results: Majority of patients were male (75.2%) with the mean age of 58 years. Hypertension was the most common comorbidity followed by diabetes mellitus. Moreover, 12.5% of patients had a history of smoking while 11.7% had preexisting lung disease. Isolated pneumothorax (48.5%) was the most common and 17.65% had developed spontaneous pneumothorax. Mean onset time was 11.6 days and 67% of patients required an intercostal drainage tube for management. Mortality was 40%, and elderly, female gender, obese and hypertensive were at higher risk. Conclusion: COVID-19-related air leaks are associated with higher mortality and longer hospital stay and can occur even without positive pressure ventilation. History of smoking and preexisting lung disease has not been shown to increase the incidence of air leak. A well-designed study is required for a better understanding of COVID-19-related air leak.

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