Portable Capnography

Most trainee anaesthetists quickly realise that waveform capnography is the most important monitor. It rapidly provides real time information about airway, breathing, and circulation. It’s way more than a monitor to confirm intubation.

It’s reassuring to hear that all level 5 paramedics in New South Wales were provided with portable capnography in early 2016. We strongly support the availability of portable capnography from level P1 upwards.

Anaesthetists are fortunate to train with paramedics in theatre. It is here that paramedics often discover what they’d assumed was effective preoxygenation and mask ventilation was in fact not. This is gleaned through the real time feedback of the capnograph – without it one cannot demonstrate an adequate face mask seal during preoxygenation, or adequate mask ventilation.

The official teaching for paramedics is that capnography be used whenever a patient is intubated. We strongly support that the teaching should be to use capnography whenever a Bag Valve Mask (BVM) is applied to patients?

Effective preoxygenation buys essential time until hypoxic injury:

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