oa Wits Journal of Clinical Medicine - Respiratory failure – review of basic sciences and application in COVID-19 - review article

Volume 2 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2618-0189
  • E-ISSN: 2618-0197



COVID-19 is portrayed as presenting unique challenges to critical care specialists. Although the use of personal protective equipment and infection prevention may indeed present novel challenges, it is unlikely that there are novel pulmonary pathophysiological mechanisms at play. Key to debating the respiratory management of COVID-19 is an understanding of the pathophysiology of respiratory failure.

Two entities principally characterise respiratory failure – firstly an alteration in blood gases, particularly hypoxaemia and secondly a change in the work of breathing (WOB).(1) These will be reviewed before examining how each is altered in COVID-19 pneumonia.

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