Carbon dioxide elimination measures resolution of experimental pulmonary embolus in dogs

Peter H. Breen, Bhaskar Mazumdar, Sean C. Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Patients with severe pulmonary embolism can suffer progressive hypercapnia refractory to supramaximal mechanical ventilation, and may require open-thoracic or transvenous emergency embolectomy in addition to anticoagulation and/or thrombolysis. The functional recovery of gas exchange would be signaled by an increase in pulmonary CO2 elimination and decrease in CO2 retention; such data could guide the course of operative embolectomy. Accordingly, we studied five chloralose-urethane anesthetized, mechanically ventilated dogs with open thoraces in which the right pulmonary arteries (RPAs) were reversibly occluded with cloth snares. After waiting for steady state, we abruptly released the snare to restore RPA perfusion and experimentally simulate resolution of pulmonary embolism. For 70 min we serially measure the CO2 volume exhaled per breath (VCO2, br), arterial, mixed venous, and end-tidal PCO2 (PaCO2, Pv̄CO2, PETCO2), cardiac output(Q̇T), and the alveolar dead space fraction (VD(alv)/VT(alv) = [PaCO2 - PETCO2[/PaCO2). RPA reperfusion caused VCO2,br to significantly and abruptly increase from 8.9 ± 2.7 to 11.6 ± 3.6 mL; 70 min later VCO2,br had returned to baseline. PaCO2 and Pv̄CO2 steadily decreased during 70 min of RPA reperfusion. PETCO2 increased from 25 ± 5 to 33 ± 5 mm Hg immediately after RPA reperfusion, as VDa(lv)/VT(alv) decreased from 54% ± 10% to 32% ± 12%, but PETCO2 was still significantly greater than baseline at 70 min of RPA reperfusion. QT did not significantly change. We conclude that intraoperative measurement of VCO2, should immediately detect and follow the resolution of CO2 retention in the lung and peripheral tissues after RPA reperfusion. PETCO2 could not detect the decrease of VCO2,br back to baseline because PETCO2 does not measure exhaled volume or the PCO2 waveform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-253
Number of pages7
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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