Accuracy of capnography in nonintubated surgical patients

S Y Liu, T S Lee, F Bongard
Chest 1992, 102 (5): 1512-5
Previous studies have reported mixed results when correlating etCO2 and PaCO2 in mechanically ventilated patients with underlying respiratory disease. However, the utility and accuracy of capnography in nonintubated patients, without chronic pulmonary disease, has received little attention. We studied 25 nonintubated surgical patients to (1) examine the correlation between PaCO2 and etCO2 and (2) describe the relationship between dead space (VD/VT), venous admixture and P(a-et)CO2. End tidal CO2 was lower than PaCO2 by an average of 3.6 mm Hg. Regression analysis found a close correlation between dead space and the P(a-et)CO2 gradient (r = 0.77, p < 0.001), while venous admixture was of lesser importance (r = 0.47). Capnographic estimates of PaCO2 can be useful for continuously monitoring the respiratory status of nonintubated spontaneously breathing patients weaned from mechanical ventilation. This may be of particular value in trauma victims and in selected surgical patients without underlying respiratory disease in whom other injuries require continued critical care.

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