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22.11.2018 | Letter to the Editor | Ausgabe 5/2019

Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing 5/2019

The use of end-tidal argon to detect venous air embolism: foiled by “fake oxygen!”

Zeitschrift:
Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing > Ausgabe 5/2019
Autoren:
James McAvoy, Richard Jaffe, Mark Burbridge, Tyler Schertz, John Brock-Utne

Abstract

Venous air-embolism (VAE) potentially catastrophic complication surgery. Based on previous data using changes in end-tidal nitrogen as an indicator of VAE, we surmised that changes in end-tidal argon (EtAr) may be an indicator of VAE. We sought to determine if a commercial mass-spectrometer (PCT Proline Analyzer 61700-8 Class 85, Ametek, Pittsburgh, PA 15238) could be used to detect changes in EtAr in an invitro model. A Drager Apollo™ (Drager, Lubeck, Germany) anesthesia machine was used to ventilate a dummy lung (2 L bag) with a minute ventilation of 6 L/min in 100% oxygen. The quadrupole mass-spectrometer (sampling at 0.0004 atm-cc/sec) was attached to the end-tidal inlet of the machine. Room air (1–60 mL) was injected into the dummy lung to simulate VAE. A strong baseline ion-current (1.2 × 10−12 amps) of argon was noted. Due to this contamination we were unable to detect “VAE” events of injected air. Argon represents approximately 0.93% of room air, or about 9300 parts per million (ppm). We detected about 2000 ppm argon in medical-grade oxygen (or 0.2%), limiting our ability to detect changes in EtAr. This is a USP-accepted contaminant, rendering this technology is insensitive for early, rapid detection of VAE. We assumed medical grade oxygen was pure and were surprised to learn otherwise. We want to share this likely largely unknown finding with the medical community.

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