Anesthesia studies using high-flow, humidified, heated oxygen delivered via nasal cannulas at flow rates of more than 50 l · min–1 postulated a ventilatory effect because carbon dioxide increased at lower levels as reported earlier. This study investigated the increase of arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide between different flow rates of 100% oxygen in elective anesthetized and paralyzed surgical adults before intubation.
After preoxygenation and standardized anesthesia induction with nondepolarizing neuromuscular blockade, all patients received 100% oxygen (via high-flow nasal oxygenation system or circuit of the anesthesia machine), and continuous jaw thrust/laryngoscopy was applied throughout the 15-min period. In this single-center noninferiority trial, 25 patients each, were randomized to five groups: (1) minimal flow: 0.25 l · min–1, endotracheal tube; (2) low flow: 2 l · min–1, continuous jaw thrust; (3) medium flow: 10 l · min–1, continuous jaw thrust; (4) high flow: 70 l · min–1, continuous jaw thrust; and (5) control: 70 l · min–1, continuous laryngoscopy. Immediately after anesthesia induction, the 15-min apnea period started with oxygen delivered according to the randomized flow rate. Serial arterial blood gas analyses were drawn every 2 min. The study was terminated if either oxygen saturation measured by pulse oximetry was less than 92%, transcutaneous carbon dioxide was greater than 100 mmHg, pH was less than 7.1, potassium level was greater than 6 mmol · l–1, or apnea time was 15 min. The primary outcome was the linear rate of mean increase of arterial carbon dioxide during the 15-min apnea period computed from linear regressions.
In total, 125 patients completed the study. Noninferiority with a predefined noninferiority margin of 0.3 mmHg · min–1 could be declared for all treatments with the following mean and 95% CI for the mean differences in the linear rate of arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide with associated P values regarding noninferiority: high flow versus control, –0.0 mmHg · min–1 (–0.3, 0.3 mmHg · min–1, P = 0.030); medium flow versus control, –0.1 mmHg · min–1 (–0.4, 0.2 mmHg · min–1, P = 0.002); low flow versus control, –0.1 mmHg · min–1 (–0.4, 0.2 mmHg · min–1, P = 0.003); and minimal flow versus control, –0.1 mmHg · min–1 (–0.4, 0.2 mmHg · min–1, P = 0.004).
Widely differing flow rates of humidified 100% oxygen during apnea resulted in comparable increases of arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide, which does not support an additional ventilatory effect of high-flow nasal oxygenation.
Apneic oxygenation during surgery may be required to facilitate surgical interventions involving the airway or may occur during intubation or emergence
Controversy over the past 60 yr remains about the rate of rise of carbon dioxide during apneic oxygenation
Initial studies with high-flow humidified nasal oxygen therapy reported lesser than historical carbon dioxide increases during apnea, suggesting a ventilatory effect on carbon dioxide elimination
Subsequent randomized data in pediatric patients disputed these observations
Adults undergoing elective surgery underwent preoxygenation, standardized anesthetic induction, and randomization to 15 min of apneic oxygenation via endotracheal tube (0.25 l/min), or high-flow nasal oxygen (2 to 70 l/min) with jaw thrust or with laryngoscopy
The primary outcome was the linear rate of increase of arterial carbon dioxide, with a predetermined noninferiority margin of 0.3 mmHg · min–1 between groups
All groups met the noninferiority criteria and with comparable arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide increases between groups, suggesting an absence of ventilatory effects for high-flow humidified nasal oxygen therapy