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Subcutaneous emphysema, pneumothorax and pneumomediastinum are well-known complications of invasive ventilation in patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. We determined the incidences of air leaks that were visible on available chest images in a cohort of critically ill patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure due to coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) in a single-center cohort in the Netherlands. A total of 712 chest images from 154 patients were re-evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of independent assessors; there was a median of three (2-5) chest radiographs and a median of one (1-2) chest CT scans per patient. The incidences of subcutaneous emphysema, pneumothoraxes and pneumomediastinum present in 13 patients (8.4%) were 4.5%, 4.5%, and 3.9%. The median first day of the presence of an air leak was 18 (2-21) days after arrival in the ICU and 18 (9-22)days after the start of invasive ventilation. We conclude that the incidence of air leaks was high in this cohort of COVID-19 patients, but it was fairly comparable with what was previously reported in patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure in the pre-COVID-19 era.

Original publication




Journal article


Diagnostics (Basel, Switzerland)

Publication Date





Department of Intensive Care, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Location 'AMC', 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The PRoVENT-Covid And PRoAcT-Covid Investigators