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End-tidal arterial CO2 partial pressure gradient in patients with severe hypercapnia undergoing noninvasive ventilation

Authors Defilippis V, D'Antini D, Cinnella G, Dambrosio M, Schiraldi F, Procacci V

Received 21 January 2013

Accepted for publication 17 March 2013

Published 20 June 2013 Volume 2013:5 Pages 1—7


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Vito Defilippis,1 Davide D’Antini,2 Gilda Cinnella,2 Michele Dambrosio,2 Fernando Schiraldi,3 Vito Procacci1

1Emergency Department, Riuniti Hospital, 2Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, University of Foggia, Foggia, 3Emergency Department, San Paolo Hospital, Naples, Italy

Background: Patients with severe hypercapnia represent a particularly serious condition in an emergency department (ED), requiring immediate attention. Noninvasive ventilation (NIV) is an integral part of the treatment for acute respiratory failure. The present study aimed to validate the measurement of end-tidal CO2 (EtCO2) as a noninvasive technique to evaluate the effectiveness of NIV in acute hypercapnic respiratory failure.
Methods: Twenty consecutive patients admitted to the ED with severe dyspnea were enrolled in the study. NIV by means of bilevel positive airway pressure, was applied to the patients simultaneously with standard medical therapy and continued for 12 hours; the arterial blood gases and side-stream nasal/oral EtCO2 were measured at subsequent times: T0 (admission to the ED), T1h (after 1 hour), T6h (after 6 hours), and T12h (after 12 hours) during NIV treatment.
Results: The arterial CO2 partial pressure (PaCO2)–EtCO2 gradient decreased progressively, reaching at T6h and T12h values lower than baseline (P < 0.001), while arterial pH increased during the observation period (P < 0.001). A positive correlation was found between EtCO2 and PaCO2 values (r = 0.89, P < 0.001) at the end of the observation period.
Conclusion: In our hypercapnic patients, the effectiveness of the NIV was evidenced by the progressive reduction of the PaCO2–EtCO2 gradient. The measurement of the CO2 gradient could be a reliable method in monitoring the effectiveness of NIV in acute hypercapnic respiratory failure in the ED.

Keywords: arterial end-tidal CO2 gradient, noninvasive ventilation, bilevel positive airway pressure, acute respiratory failure

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