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217 The end-tidal and arterial carbon dioxide gradient in serious traumatic brain injury after pre-hospital emergency anaesthesia: a retrospective observational study
  1. James Price1,
  2. Daniel Sandbach2,
  3. Ari Ercole1,
  4. Alastair Wilson2,
  5. Ed Barnard2
  1. 1Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  2. 2East Anglian Air Ambulance


Aims/Objectives/Background In the United Kingdom (UK), 20% of patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) receive pre-hospital emergency anaesthesia (PHEA). Current guidance recommends an end-tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2) of 4.0–4.5kPa to achieve a low-normal arterial partial pressure of CO2 (PaCO2), and reduce secondary brain injury. This recommendation assumes a 0.5kPa ETCO2-PaCO2 gradient. However, the gradient in the acute phase of TBI is unknown. Our primary aim was to report the ETCO2-PaCO2 gradient of TBI patients at hospital arrival.

Methods/Design A retrospective cohort study of adult patients with serious TBI, who received a PHEA by a pre-hospital critical care team in the East of England between 1st April 2015 to 31st December 2017. Linear regression was performed to test for correlation and reported as R-squared (R2). A Bland-Altman plot was used to test for paired ETCO2 and PaCO2 agreement and reported with 95% confidence intervals (95%CI). ETCO2-PaCO2 gradient data were compared with a two-tailed, unpaired, t-test.

Results/Conclusions 107 patients were eligible for inclusion. Sixty-seven patients did not receive a PaCO2 sample within 30 minutes of hospital arrival and were therefore excluded. Forty patients had complete data and were included in the final analysis; per protocol.

The mean ETCO2-PaCO2 gradient was 1.7 (±1.0) kPa, with only moderate correlation of ETCO2 and PaCO2 at hospital arrival (R2=0.23, p=0.002). The Bland-Altman bias was 1.7 (95%CI 1.4–2.0) kPa with upper and lower limits of agreement of 3.6 (95%CI 3.0–4.1) kPa and -0.2 (95%CI -0.8–0.3) kPa respectively. There was no significant gradient correlation in patients with a co-existing serious thoracic injury (R2=0.13, p=0.10), and this cohort had a larger ETCO2-PaCO2 gradient, 2.0 (±1.1) kPa, p=0.01. Patients who underwent pre-hospital arterial blood sampling had an arrival PaCO2 of 4.7 (±0.2) kPa.

Lower ETCO2 targets than previously recommended may be safe and appropriate. The use of pre-hospital PaCO2 measurement is advocated.

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