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Crit Care Clin. 2012 Oct;28(4):537-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ccc.2012.07.007.

Carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Section of Critical Care, Respiratory Institute, Medical Intensive Care Unit, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, G6-156, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the leading cause of death as a result of unintentional poisoning in the United States. CO toxicity is the result of a combination of tissue hypoxia-ischemia secondary to carboxyhemoglobin formation and direct CO-mediated damage at a cellular level. Presenting symptoms are mostly nonspecific and depend on the duration of exposure and levels of CO. Diagnosis is made by prompt measurement of carboxyhemoglobin levels. Treatment consists of the patient's removal from the source of exposure and the immediate administration of 100% supplemental oxygen in addition to aggressive supportive measures. The use of hyperbaric oxygen is controversial.

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