Do all mechanically ventilated pediatric patients require continuous capnography?
With most patients in modern ICUs requiring mechanical ventilation, any technology that may lead to more optimal ventilatory strategies would be invaluable in the management of critically ill patients. The focus of most ventilator strategies is protecting the lung from the deleterious effects of mechanical ventilation. Every effort is made to minimize the duration of mechanical ventilation while optimizing the potential for successful extubation. A concise organized plan based on objective criteria that is adjusted to meet changes in patient status is clearly recommended. Continuous capnographic monitoring provides clinicians with clear, precise, objective data that may prove beneficial in the design and implementation of mechanical ventilatory strategies. There are no clear-cut methods for achieving the optimal ventilator strategy for a specific patient. Although guidelines and management theories exist throughout the medical literature, in practice, they often merely serve as loose guidelines. The dynamic properties of an acutely ill patient make the management of mechanical ventilation an ongoing process requiring clinical assessment and planning by multidisciplinary members of the patient care team. Comprehensive evaluation of ventilatory management strategies and patient responses must be made by a collaborative effort of physicians, respiratory care practitioners, and nurses. An objective, consistent approach to the overall management is essential. Although still controversial, it is the authors' opinion that volumetric capnograph provides the data necessary to establish adequate gas delivery, optimal PEEP, and effective ventilation with the least amount of mechanical assistance, regardless of clinician or institutional preferences.
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