Hyperventilation at Referring Hospitals Is Common Before Transport in Intubated Children With Neurological Diseases

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Objective:To assess if cardiopulmonary complications and abnormal carbon dioxide tension are more likely in intubated children with neurological diseases undergoing transport.Methods:We reviewed the transport records of all ventilated children retrieved to a pediatric teaching hospital in the United States within a 12-month period.Results:Twenty-seven children were transported by ground (n = 11), helicopter (n = 10), and fixed-wing aircraft (n = 6). Adjustments of ventilator settings were made in 17 (63%). There were no pneumothoraces, endotracheal tube complications, arrhythmias, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation en route. Twelve patients (44%) had a primary neurological condition. In the neurological category, the pretransport blood gases revealed 7 patients with hyperventilation (Pco2, 20-29 mm Hg), and the posttransport blood gases showed 4 patients with hyperventilation (Pco2, 15-28 mm Hg). In the nonneurological category, hyperventilation occurred only in one patient before and another after transport. No significant difference between the mode of transport, stabilization time, return time, and the occurrence of hypercapnia and hypocapnia was identified. Patients who had a neurological condition were more likely to be hyperventilated at the referring hospitals (P = 0.007). Additional maneuvers were considered necessary in 3 of the 6 neurological patients and 2 of the 5 nonneurological patients with ΔpH greater than ±0.1, whereas the management of all but one patient with ΔpH less than ±0.1 was considered appropriate (ΔpH defined as the difference between posttransport and pretransport pH values).Conclusion:There is no cardiopulmonary disaster in the various modes of pediatric transport. When compared with ground transport, there is no significant increase in the risk for cardiopulmonary complications or abnormal CO2 tension in air transport of intubated children. ΔpH, in conjunction with clinical data and PCO2 values, may be a simple index for evaluation of cardiopulmonary management during transport.

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