Capnography Use During Intubation and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in the Pediatric Emergency Department

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2017 Jul;33(7):457-461. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000000813.


Objective: Capnography is indicated as a guide to assess and monitor both endotracheal intubation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Our primary objective was to determine the effect of the 2010 American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines on the frequency of capnography use during critical events in children in the emergency department (ED). Our secondary objective was to examine associations between patient characteristics and capnography use among these patients.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on children aged 0 to 21 years who were intubated or received CPR in 2 academic children's hospital EDs between January 2009 and December 2012. Age, sex, time of arrival, medical or traumatic cause, length of CPR, return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), documented use of capnography and colorimetry, capnography values, and adverse events were recorded.

Results: Two hundred ninety-two patients were identified and analyzed. Intubation occurred in 95% of cases and CPR in 30% of cases. Capnography was documented in only 38% of intubated patients and 13% of patients requiring CPR. There was an overall decrease in capnography use after publication of the 2010 AHA recommendations (P = 0.05). Capnography use was associated with a longer duration of CPR and return of spontaneous circulation.

Conclusions: Despite the 2010 AHA recommendations, a minority of critically ill children are being monitored with capnography and an unexpected decrease in documented use occurred among our sample. Further education and implementation of capnography should take place to improve the use of this monitoring device for critically ill pediatric patients in the ED.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Capnography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult