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Chest. 2000 Mar;117(3):801-8.

Carboxyhemoglobin half-life in carbon monoxide-poisoned patients treated with 100% oxygen at atmospheric pressure.

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  • 1Hyperbaric Medicine and Pulmonary Division, LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City, UT 84143, USA.



There are large reported differences for the carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) half-life (COHb t(1/2)) in humans breathing 100% atmospheric O(2) following CO inhalation in tightly controlled experiments compared to the COHb t(1/2) observed in clinical CO poisoning (range, 36 to 131 min, respectively). Other reports have suggested that the COHb t(1/2) may be affected by gender differences, age, and lung function. We wished to test the hypothesis that the COHb t(1/2) might also be influenced by CO poisoning vs experimental CO exposure, by a history of loss of consciousness (LOC), concurrent tobacco smoking, and by PaO(2). The purpose of the present study was to measure the COHb t(1/2) in a cohort of CO-poisoned patients and to determine if those listed factors influenced the COHb t(1/2).


Retrospective chart review from 1985 to 1995. We calculated the COHb t(1/2) of CO-poisoned patients who were treated with high-flow supplemental atmospheric pressure O(2) delivered by nonrebreather face mask or endotracheal tube.


Hyperbaric medicine department of a tertiary-care teaching hospital.


Of 240 CO-poisoned patients, 93 had at least two COHb measurements > 2% (upper limit of normal) with recorded times of the measurements, permitting calculation of the COHb t(1/2).


The COHb t(1/2) was 74 +/- 25 min (mean +/- 1 SD) with a range from 26 to 148 min. By stepwise multiple linear regression analysis, the PaO(2) influenced the COHb t(1/2) (R(2) = 0.19; p < 0.001), whereas the COHb t(1/2) was not influenced by gender, age, smoke inhalation, history of LOC, concurrent tobacco smoking, degree of initial metabolic acidosis (base excess), or initial COHb level.


The COHb t(1/2) of 93 CO-poisoned patients treated with 100% O(2) at atmospheric pressure was 74 +/- 25 min, considerably shorter than the COHb t(1/2) reported in prior clinical reports (approximately 130 +/- 130 min) and was influenced only by the patient's PaO(2).

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