Objective: To compare the effects on transcutaneous carbon dioxide tension (Ptco2) of high concentration and titrated oxygen therapy in medical inpatients with morbid obesity who were not selected for a pre-existing diagnosis of obesity hypoventilation syndrome.
Design: A randomised, crossover trial undertaken between February and September 2015.
Setting: Internal medicine service, Wellington Regional Hospital, New Zealand.
Participants: 22 adult inpatients, aged 16 years or more, with a body mass index exceeding 40 kg/m2.
Interventions: Participants received in random order two 60-minute interventions, with a minimum 30-minute washout period between treatments: titrated oxygen therapy (oxygen delivered, if required, via nasal prongs to achieve peripheral oxygen saturation [Spo2] of 88–92%), and high concentration oxygen therapy (delivered via Hudson mask at 8 L/min, without regard to Spo2). Ptco2 and Spo2 were recorded at 10-minute intervals.
Main outcome measure: Ptco2 at 60 minutes, adjusted for baseline.
Results: Baseline Ptco2 was 45 mmHg or lower for 16 participants with full data (73%). The mean difference in Ptco2 between high concentration and titrated oxygen therapy at 60 minutes was 3.2 mmHg (95% CI, 1.3–5.2 mmHg; P = 0.002).
Conclusion: High concentration oxygen therapy increases Ptco2 in morbidly obese patients. Our findings support guidelines that advocate oxygen therapy, if required in patients with morbid obesity, be titrated to achieve a target Spo2 of 88–92%.
Clinical trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12610000522011.
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