Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Crit Care Clin. 2021 Jul;37(3):657-672. doi: 10.1016/j.ccc.2021.03.010.


Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, highly toxic gas primarily produced through the incomplete combustion of organic material. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin and other heme molecules, causing tissue hypoxia and oxidative stress. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can vary from a mild headache to critical illness, which can make diagnosis difficult. When there is concern for possible carbon monoxide poisoning, the diagnosis can be made via blood co-oximetry. The primary treatment for patients with carbon monoxide poisoning is supplemental oxygen, usually delivered via a nonrebreather mask. Hyperbaric oxygen can also be used, but the exact indications are controversial.

Keywords: CO poisoning; Carbon monoxide; Carboxyhemoglobin; Co-oximetry; Hyperbaric oxygen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning* / diagnosis
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning* / therapy
  • Carboxyhemoglobin
  • Humans


  • Carboxyhemoglobin