The relationship between PaCO2 and PetCO2 has been the subject of a large number of investigations and controversy exists regarding its utility as a non-invasive tool for monitoring alveolar ventilation at the bedside. Several studies performed on patients under total ventilatory support have reported that the values of PetCO2 at a single point in time usually correlate well with the corresponding value of PaCO2. However, when the ventilatory pattern was changed, there was a weaker correlation between changes in PetCO2 and changes in PaCO2 measured simultaneously for a given patient, indicating that the PaCO2 - PetCO2 gradient varied within individual patients during changes in ventilation. These contradictory data merely reflect the strong influence of pathophysiological states and circulatory and respiratory variables on PaCO2 and PetCO2.
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