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Can J Vet Res. 2012 Oct;76(4):275-80.

Hypercapnic respiratory acidosis: a protective or harmful strategy for critically ill newborn foals?

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Veterinary Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana SI-1115, Slovenia.


in English, French

This paper reviews both the beneficial and adverse effects of permissive hypercapnic respiratory acidosis in critically ill newborn foals. It has been shown that partial carbon dioxide pressure (PCO2) above the traditional safe range (hypercapnia), has beneficial effects on the physiology of the respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous system in neonates. In human neonatal critical care medicine permissive hypercapnic acidosis is generally well-tolerated by patients and is more beneficial to their wellbeing than normal carbon dioxide (CO2) pressure or normocapnia. Even though adverse effects of hypercapnia have been reported, especially in patients with central nervous system pathology and/or chronic infection, critical care clinicians often artificially increase PCO2 to take advantage of its positive effects on compromised neonate tissues. This is referred to as therapeutic hypercapnia. Hypercapnic respiratory acidosis is common in critically ill newborn foals and has traditionally been considered as not beneficial. A search of online scientific databases was conducted to survey the literature on the effects of hypercapnia in neonates, with emphasis on newborn foals. The dynamic status of safety levels of PCO2 and data on the effectiveness of different carbon dioxide levels are not available for newborn foals and should be scientifically determined. Presently, permissive hypercapnia should be implemented or tolerated cautiously in compromised newborn foals and its use should be based on relevant data from adult horses and other species.

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