Mucosal capnometry involves the monitoring of partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PCO2) in mucous membranes. Different techniques have been developed and applied for this purpose, including sublingual or buccal sensors, or special gastrointestinal tonometric devices. The primary use of these procedures is to detect compensated shock in critically ill patients or patients undergoing major surgery. Compensatory mechanisms, in the early phases of shock, lead to the redistribution of blood flow towards the vital organs, within ostensibly typical macro-haemodynamic parameters. Unfortunately, this may result in microcirculatory disturbances, which can play a pivotal role in the development of organ failure. In such circumstances mucosal capnometry monitoring, at different gastrointestinal sites, can provide a sensitive method for the early diagnosis of shock. The special PCO2 monitoring methods assess the severity of ischaemia and help to define the necessary therapeutic interventions and testing of these monitors have justified their prognostic value. Gastrointestinal mucosal capnometry monitoring also helps in determining the severity of ischaemia and is a useful adjunctive in the diagnosis of occlusive splanchnic arterial diseases. The supplementary functional information increases the diagnostic accuracy of radiological techniques, assists in creating individualized treatment plans, and helps in follow-up the results of interventions. The results of a pilot study focusing on the interrelation of splanchnic perfusion and gastrointestinal function are given and discussed concerning recent advances in mucosal capnometry.
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