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Contemporary Reviews in Critical Care Medicine |

Capnography During Critical Illness

Boulos S. Nassar, MD; Gregory A. Schmidt, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Gregory A. Schmidt, MD, FCCP, Division of Pulmonary Diseases, Critical Care, and Occupational Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, C33-GH, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Dr, Iowa City, IA 52242


Copyright 2016, American College of Chest Physicians. All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2016;149(2):576-585. doi:10.1378/chest.15-1369
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Capnography has made steady inroads in the ICU and is increasingly used for all patients who are mechanically ventilated. There is growing recognition that capnography is rich in information about lung and circulatory physiology and provides insight into many diseases and treatments. These include conditions of impaired matching of ventilation and perfusion, such as pulmonary embolism and obstructive lung diseases; circulatory questions, such as the adequacy of chest compressions during cardiac arrest or fluid responsiveness in patients in shock; and the safety of procedural sedation. In this review, we emphasize analysis of the entire capnographic waveform as a way to glean additional useful information. We also discuss important limitations of capnography, especially when it is considered to be a surrogate for Paco2.

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