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Ann Emerg Med. 2002 Dec;40(6):611-8.

Normocapnia improves cerebral oxygen delivery during conventional oxygen therapy in carbon monoxide-exposed research subjects.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



We determine whether maintaining normocapnia during hyperoxic treatment of carbon monoxide-exposed research subjects improves cerebral oxygen delivery.


This experiment used a randomized, single-blinded, crossover design. We exposed 14 human research subjects to carbon monoxide until their carboxyhemoglobin levels reached 10% to 12%. We then treated each research subject with 60 minutes of hyperoxia with or without normocapnia. Research subjects returned after at least 24 hours, were reexposed to carbon monoxide, and were given the alternate treatment. Relative changes in cerebral oxygen delivery were calculated as the product of blood oxygen content and middle cerebral artery velocity (an index of cerebral blood flow) as measured by transcranial Doppler ultrasonography.


Maintaining normocapnia during hyperoxic treatment resulted in significantly higher cerebral oxygen delivery compared with standard oxygen treatment (P <.05; 95% confidence interval at 60 minutes 2.8% to 16.7%) as a result of the prevention of hypocapnia-induced cerebral vasoconstriction and more rapid elimination of carbon monoxide due to increased minute ventilation.


If severely poisoned patients respond like our research subjects, maintaining normocapnia during initial hyperoxic treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning may lead to increased oxygen delivery to the brain. Determining the effect of such a change in conventional treatment on outcome requires clinical studies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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