Specialised monitoring

The following systems of monitoring are specialised and are most commonly seen in critical care areas such as intensive therapy units (ITU).

Capnography

When a patient has been intubated a capnograph will measure the level of carbon dioxide in the exhaled air from the patient's lungs. Carbon dioxide is not produced by the stomach so the presence of CO2 will assist in confirming that the ET tube is in the trachea and not the oesophagus. Continuous capnography is not only a constant confirmation that the ET tube is in the correct place, for example during patient transfer, but will also reflect heart-lung function because if tissues are not effectively perfused only small amounts of CO2 will be excreted. Thus capnography reflects the adequacy of circulation (Schnell & Puntillo 2001).

Arterial pressure monitoring

This is a continuous and extremely accurate means of monitoring the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It is used in critical care settings to assess the patient's response to the therapies they are given in the immediate post-resuscitation phase.

The pressures are displayed as continuous traces on a monitor.

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