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Br J Anaesth. 1998 Sep;81(3):338-42.

Changes in blood-gas tensions during apnoeic oxygenation in paediatric patients.

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Sir Humphrey Davy Department of Anaesthesia, Bristol Royal Infirmary.


We report changes in arterial blood-gas tensions for up to 5 min of apnoeic oxygenation in 26 anaesthetized paediatric patients (21 children, five infants). Changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide tension were greatest in the first minute of apnoeic oxygenation. In subsequent minutes, rates of change in gas tension were approximately constant. The rate of decline in oxygen tension (31 (95% confidence interval (CI) 20.1-42.2) mm Hg min-1) was more than three times that reported in studies in adults. The rate of increase in carbon dioxide tension (4.2 (95% CI 3.7-4.7) mm Hg min-1) was similar to that reported in adults. After successful preoxygenation, oxygen tension remained greater than 290 mm Hg in all children (age > 1 yr) throughout the study. This was not the case in infants. We found no correlation between changes in blood-gas tensions and age or weight of patients. The small number of infants studied showed rapid decreases in oxygen tension which if sustained would be expected to limit the safe duration of apnoeic oxygenation, unlike adults where apnoeic oxygenation is limited by hypercapnia. Extrapolation of our results suggests that when preoxygenation has been successful, apnoeic oxygenation could continue safely in children for at least 10 min. Infants may become hypoxic after only 2 min.

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