Hypocapnia in Neuroanesthesia: Current Situation
Introduction: Hyperventilation has been a usual maneuver in the management of anesthesia in neurosurgical procedures. A few years back there used to be some medical skepticism about the potential of cerebral ischemia and today we know that it is detrimental and worsens the patient’s condition and prognosis.
Objective: To review the adverse effects of hypocapnia on various organs —mainly the brain— and to identify the current recommendations about its use.
Methodology: We conducted a PubMed literature search using MeSH terminology including the key words. The search was expanded to include a review of several texts and the bibliography of the most relevant articles.
Results: The literature review showed that hypocapnia is harmful for the brain and for other tissues and the current recommendation is to use it for two situations only: in case of imminent herniation and to improve the surgical field, limited to 20 minutes.
Conclusions: Hyperventilation should not be a routine anesthetic intervention for the management of the neurosurgical patient; there must be a precise indication and once the situation is corrected, the intervention must be immediately withdrawn.
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