Previous clinical reports indicate that nasal packing is frequently associated with arterial hypoxemia. Anesthesia and surgery in hypoxemic patients can be hazardous, especially when it is associated with acute blood loss.
Nine patients with severe epistaxis, who failed to respond to anterior and posterior nasal packing, were anesthetized for emergency internal maxillary artery ligation. Arterial blood-gas and pH changes during the procedure were evaluated. The results indicate some degree of arterial hypoxemia and high alveolar/arterial POa difference without significant change in PaCO2 and pH in most of the patients observed. Arterial PO2 was within normal range 24 hours after operation.
The anesthetic management is described and the various causes of such arterial hypoxemia are reviewed. It is important to recognize the presence of arterial hypoxemia and treat accordingly during surgery for such patients.