COVID-19 Evidence Alerts
from McMaster PLUSTM

Current best evidence for clinical care (more info)

Treatment Cumpstey AF, Oldman AH, Smith AF, et al. Oxygen targets in the intensive care unit during mechanical ventilation for acute respiratory distress syndrome: a rapid review. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Sep 1;9(9):CD013708. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD013708.

BACKGROUND: Supplemental oxygen is frequently administered to patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), including ARDS secondary to viral illness such as coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). An up-to-date understanding of how best to target this therapy (e.g. arterial partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2) or peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) aim) in these patients is urgently required.

OBJECTIVES: To address how oxygen therapy should be targeted in adults with ARDS (particularly ARDS secondary to COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses) and requiring mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit, and the impact oxygen therapy has on mortality, days ventilated, days of catecholamine use, requirement for renal replacement therapy, and quality of life.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and Embase from inception to 15 May 2020 for ongoing or completed randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

SELECTION CRITERIA: Two review authors independently assessed all records in accordance with standard Cochrane methodology for study selection. We included RCTs comparing supplemental oxygen administration (i.e. different target PaO2 or SpO2 ranges) in adults with ARDS and receiving mechanical ventilation in an intensive care setting. We excluded studies exploring oxygen administration in patients with different underlying diagnoses or those receiving non-invasive ventilation, high-flow nasal oxygen, or oxygen via facemask.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: One review author performed data extraction, which a second review author checked. We assessed risk of bias in included studies using the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool. We used the GRADE approach to judge the certainty of the evidence for the following outcomes; mortality at longest follow-up, days ventilated, days of catecholamine use, and requirement for renal replacement therapy.

MAIN RESULTS: We identified one completed RCT evaluating oxygen targets in patients with ARDS receiving mechanical ventilation in an intensive care setting. The study randomized 205 mechanically ventilated patients with ARDS to either conservative (PaO2 55 to 70 mmHg, or SpO2 88% to 92%) or liberal (PaO2 90 to 105 mmHg, or SpO2 = 96%) oxygen therapy for seven days. Overall risk of bias was high (due to lack of blinding, small numbers of participants, and the trial stopping prematurely), and we assessed the certainty of the evidence as very low. The available data suggested that mortality at 90 days may be higher in those participants receiving a lower oxygen target (odds ratio (OR) 1.83, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03 to 3.27). There was no evidence of a difference between the lower and higher target groups in mean number of days ventilated (14.0, 95% CI 10.0 to 18.0 versus 14.5, 95% CI 11.8 to 17.1); number of days of catecholamine use (8.0, 95% CI 5.5 to 10.5 versus 7.2, 95% CI 5.9 to 8.4); or participants receiving renal replacement therapy (13.7%, 95% CI 5.8% to 21.6% versus 12.0%, 95% CI 5.0% to 19.1%). Quality of life was not reported.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: We are very uncertain as to whether a higher or lower oxygen target is more beneficial in patients with ARDS and receiving mechanical ventilation in an intensive care setting. We identified only one RCT with a total of 205 participants exploring this question, and rated the risk of bias as high and the certainty of the findings as very low. Further well-conducted studies are urgently needed to increase the certainty of the findings reported here. This review should be updated when more evidence is available.

Discipline / Specialty Area Score
Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists
Internal Medicine
Intensivist/Critical Care
Comments from MORE raters

Intensivist/Critical Care rater

The authors reviewed only one paper, and no conclusion was drawn.

Intensivist/Critical Care rater

This is an important trial. Further information is needed. Support with oxygen is almost certainly necessary but may very well be harmful if given in excess. Unfortunately, the source trial was stopped prematurely.

Internal Medicine rater

Though this systematic review concludes that we need larger better conducted studies, as in internist its important to know that a higher oxygen target that is often targeted in ARDS is not evidence based.