COVID-19 survivorship: How otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons can restore quality of life after critical illness

Vinciya Pandian, Martin B. Brodsky, Emily P. Brigham, Ann M. Parker, Alexander T. Hillel, Joshua M. Levy, Christopher H. Rassekh, Anil K. Lalwani, Dale M. Needham, Michael J. Brenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mortality from COVID-19 has obscured a subtler crisis – the swelling ranks of COVID-19 survivors. After critical illness, patients often suffer post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), which encompasses physical, cognitive, and/or mental health impairments that are often long-lasting barriers to resuming a meaningful life. Some deficits after COVID-19 critical illness will require otolaryngologic expertise for years after hospital discharge. There are roles for all subspecialties in preventing, diagnosing, or treating sequelae of COVID-19. Otolaryngologist leadership in multidisciplinary efforts ensures coordinated care. Timely tracheostomy, when indicated, may shorten the course of intensive care unit stay and thereby potentially reduce the impairments associated with PICS. Otolaryngologists can provide expertise in olfactory disorders; thrombotic sequelae of hearing loss and vertigo; and laryngotracheal injuries that impair speech, voice, swallowing, communication, and breathing. In the aftermath of severe COVID-19, otolaryngologists are poised to lead efforts in early identification and intervention for impairments affecting patients' quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102917
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Critical care
  • Dizziness
  • Gustatory
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Hearing loss
  • Iatrogenic injury
  • Intensive care unit
  • Laryngotracheal injury, Subglottic stenosis, Tracheal stenosis
  • Olfactory
  • Pandemic
  • Patient safety and quality improvement
  • Quality of life
  • SARS-CoV-2, coronavirus
  • Smell
  • Speech
  • Swallowing
  • Taste
  • Tracheocutaneous fistula
  • Tracheostomy
  • Tracheotomy
  • Ventilator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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