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Patient safety during procedural sedation using capnography monitoring: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Patient safety during procedural sedation using capnography monitoring: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Saunders R, Struys MMRF, Pollock RF, Mestek M, Lightdale JR.

BMJ Open. 2017 Jun 30;7(6):e013402. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013402.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of capnography monitoring on sedation-related adverse events during procedural sedation and analgesia (PSA) administered for ambulatory surgery relative to visual assessment and pulse oximetry alone.

The authors performed systematic literature review and random effects meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) reporting sedation-related adverse event incidence when adding capnography to visual assessment and pulse oximetry in patients undergoing PSA during ambulatory surgery in the hospital setting. Searches for eligible studies published between 1 January 1995 and 31 December 2016 (inclusive) were conducted in PubMed, the Cochrane Library and EMBASE without any language constraints. Searches were conducted in January 2017, screening and data extraction were conducted by two independent reviewers, and study quality was assessed using a modified Jadad scale.

The main intervention in this analysis was capnography monitoring relative to visual assessment and pulse oximetry alone.

The outcome measures were predefined endpoints of desaturation/hypoxaemia (the primary endpoint), apnoea, aspiration, bradycardia, hypotension, premature procedure termination, respiratory failure, use of assisted/bag-mask ventilation and death during PSA.


The literature search identified 1006 unique articles, of which 13 were ultimately included in the meta-analysis. Addition of capnography to visual assessment and pulse oximetry was associated with a significant reduction in mild (risk ratio (RR) 0.77, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.89) and severe (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.81) desaturation, as well as in the use of assisted ventilation (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.95). No significant differences in other endpoints were identified.


Meta-analysis of 13 RCTs published between 2006 and 2016 showed a reduction in respiratory compromise (from respiratory insufficiency to failure) during PSA with the inclusion of capnography monitoring. In particular, use of capnography was associated with less mild and severe oxygen desaturation, which may have helped to avoid the need for assisted ventilation.


Comments by Bhavani Shankar Kodali MD

This is a great study. There is a debate among care providers about the validity and usefulness of capnography montoring during sedation. This meta-analysis is a good eye opner to many who do not believe in capnography.