Efficacy of the FEF colorimetric end-tidal carbon dioxide detector in children

J S Kelly, R D Wilhoit, R E Brown, R James
Anesthesia and Analgesia 1992, 75 (1): 45-50
Direct laryngoscopy and observation of endotracheal tube (ETT) passage between the vocal cords remain the criterion standard for verifying endotracheal intubation. Detection of end-tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2) serves as an invaluable adjunct to confirm endotracheal intubation, detect inadvertent esophageal intubation, and monitor for accidental tracheal extubation. Capnography, however, is often unavailable outside the operating suite. A commercially available, disposable, colorimetric ETCO2 detector (FEF, Fenem, Inc., New York, N.Y.), in which color changes using a numerical scale semiquantitatively measure percent carbon dioxide in exhaled gases, has proved effective in confirming endotracheal intubation in adults, but has not been thoroughly investigated in children. We studied 20 otherwise healthy children, aged 6 mo to 8 yr, with simultaneous infrared and colorimetric ETCO2 measurements during elective general anesthesia to evaluate the efficacy of the colorimetric detector. Two hundred of 200 tracheally intubated positive-pressure breaths and 198 of 200 breaths under spontaneous mask ventilation demonstrated a yellow color change (color level 5 or 6), signifying an ETCO2 greater than or equal to 15 mm Hg (2.0 kPa). Repeated-measures analysis of variance revealed no significant differences in infrared ETCO2 values between the two yellow color levels throughout the study period. The associations among color level, infrared ETCO2 determinations, ETT size, and ETT "leak" pressures estimated by Spearman rank correlation analysis were significant only for higher infrared ETCO2 values with higher ETT leak pressures (P less than 0.05). No complications were observed. The Fenem disposable colorimetric ETCO2 detector effectively confirms clinical signs of endotracheal intubation in children when capnography is unavailable.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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