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Capnography: What is it and what is it telling me?

Capnography is an essential tool in how we perform safe and effective anesthesia for our patients. A capnograph is a graphic representation of ventilation in our patients and is a measurement of the CO2 level during respiration. This is very different from pulseoximetry which measures the oxygenation of the blood following respiration. Capnography provides great insight into not only the patients ventilation but can immediately detect any issues in the patient's ventilation.

Dr. Stefania Grasso, who oversees all of our anesthetic cases at the VSCAN, provided the following information as a guide to help those of you performing anesthesia to understand and trouble shoot any issues that may arise during your procedure. The first image bellow will help you understanding the function and graphic representation of a normal capnography. Studying a normal capnograph will allow you to recognize and address concerns much faster. The second image highlights some of the most common abnormalities seen on capnography and tells you the most common causes of each.

When used appropriately, capnography will greatly improve the quality and safety of your anesthetic practices.

For more information regarding anesthesia practices or to schedule learning opportunities for your staff with Dr. Grasso, please visit or reach out to us at .

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