Two Years On, Minimal Lung Damage in COVID-19 Survivors Who Were Ventilated

Two Years On, Minimal Lung Damage in COVID-19 Survivors Who Were Ventilated


With the unprecedented scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many questions about long-term effects on the health of survivors. One major concern has been for those who needed mechanical ventilation during hospitalization, as studies have shown that this treatment method can result in severe lung damage. However, a recent study conducted in Milan, Italy, provides hopeful news for patients who received invasive ventilation due to COVID-19.
The study examined the lung health of COVID-19 survivors two years after they were discharged from the hospital. At San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, 239 patients were treated with invasive ventilation via endotracheal or tracheostomy tube, and all but 50 survived. Of these survivors, only 15 (6.3%) showed “fibrotic-like” changes on their follow-up CT scans, which is consistent with pulmonary fibrosis or scarring.

Moreover, these patients didn’t report any significant differences in their overall well-being and quality of life compared to those who received non-invasive ventilation. The researchers couldn’t find any apparent relation between the type or duration of invasive ventilation and the likelihood of this lung damage.
The authors of the study aren’t entirely sure why the number of lung damage cases is relatively low, but they hypothesized that early interventions could have made a significant difference. They suggested that timely intubation and medication, and possibly the prone positioning of ventilated patients, may have lowered the risk of lung injury.

It’s important to note that the study has some limitations. It was conducted on a single cohort of patients in a particular hospital, and so it might not reflect the broader population of COVID-19 patients worldwide. Additionally, the study didn’t consider the mental health issues related to patients’ prolonged hospitalization and the traumatic experience of interventional ventilation.

Despite these limitations, the study’s results provide hope that patients who needed invasive ventilation due to COVID-19 could be less likely to suffer lung damage than initially thought. More research needs to be done to confirm these findings and understand the factors that may have influenced them. However, the overall message from this study is a positive one, offering glimmers of hope to both healthcare providers and COVID-19 survivors themselves.