A capnography monitor is a medical machine that monitors carbon dioxide (CO2) in a patient's breath or exhaled air. In the past, capnography monitor was only used in intensive care units. However, clinicians are discovering a range of clinical uses for it. Here are some of the most beneficial ways to use CO2 monitoring.
Confirming endotracheal tube placement: Confirming proper endotracheal tube placement is an ongoing challenge for healthcare providers. When the healthcare team inserts the endotracheal tube, there is always the risk of it slipping into the esophagus instead of into the lungs. Clinicians use a number of techniques to check the position of the ET tube. Some of the most common methods are listening to the lungs for breath sounds and using a laryngoscope to see where the tubes are. Instead, the American College of Emergency Physicians recommends capnography as the most reliable way to ensure proper placement of the endotracheal tube in the lung. Because the stomach does not produce carbon dioxide, seeing a large amount of carbon dioxide coming back through the ET tube means the trachea is placed correctly.
Monitoring of mechanical ventilation and CPR: Capnography is also an effective method of monitoring artificial respiration. A steady CO2 level indicates that the patient is inhaling oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. This makes the capnogram a good indicator that the mechanical ventilation is working properly. It also monitors CPR. If the capnometer shows a steady, strong exhalation of carbon dioxide, it means the compressions are good and the patient is releasing carbon dioxide.
Monitoring spontaneous ventilation: Capnography is also useful for patients who are breathing on their own, since the patient does not need to be intubated to use the capnometer. In critical care settings, such as the ICU and ED, capnography is a non-invasive method of monitoring the effectiveness of a patient's breathing.
Procedural sedation: Postoperative patients are prone to respiratory insufficiency. When they emerge from anesthesia, their breathing may be erratic, so monitoring their respiratory status is critical. Monitoring postoperative respiration is especially important in patients with compromised airways and those at risk of loss of consciousness after extubation. Many hospitals use pulse oximetry to monitor patients as they recover from procedural sedation. However, capnography first detects worsening breathing before it leads to low oxygen levels in the blood.
Sleep study capnography is also often used in sleep studies. For patients with sleep problems, capnography can be used clinically to diagnose sleep apnea and hypoventilation.