Carbon monoxide intoxication.
Handb Clin Neurol. 2015;131:191-203
Authors: Bleecker ML
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, nonirritant gas that accounts for numerous cases of CO poisoning every year from a variety of sources of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. These include poorly functioning heating systems, indoor propane-powered forklifts, indoor burning of charcoal burning briquettes, riding in the back of pick-up trucks, ice skating rinks using propane-powered resurfacing machines, and gasoline-powered generators that are not in correct locations. Once CO is inhaled it binds with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) with an affinity 200 times greater than oxygen that leads to decreased oxygen-carrying capacity and decreased release of oxygen to tissues leading to tissue hypoxia. Ischemia occurs with CO poisoning when there is loss of consciousness that is accompanied by hypotension and ischemia in the arterial border zones of the brain. Besides binding to many heme-containing proteins, CO disrupts oxidative metabolism leading to the formation of free radicals. Once hypotension and unconsciousness occur with CO poisoning, lipid peroxidation and apoptosis follow. Because COHb has a short half-life, examination of other biomarkers of CO neurotoxicity that reflect inflammation or neuronal damage has not demonstrated consistent results. The initial symptoms with CO exposure when COHb is 15-30% are nonspecific, namely, headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and impaired manual dexterity. However individuals with ischemic heart disease may experience chest pain and decreased exercise duration at COHb levels between 1% and 9%. COHb levels between 30% and 70% lead to loss of consciousness and eventually death. Following resolution of acute symptoms there may be a lucid interval of 2-40 days before the development of delayed neurologic sequelae (DNS), with diffuse demyelination in the brain accompanied by lethargy, behavior changes, forgetfulness, memory loss, and parkinsonian features. Seventy-five percent of patients with DNS recover within 1 year. Neuropsychologic abnormalities with chronic CO exposure are found even when magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy are normal. White-matter damage in the centrum semiovale and periventricular area and abnormalities in the globus pallidus are most commonly seen on MRI following CO exposure. Though not as common, toxic or ischemic peripheral neuropathies are associated with CO exposure in humans and animals. The cornerstone for treatment for CO poisoning is 100% oxygen using a tight-fitting mask for greater than 6 hours. The indications for treatment with hyperbaric oxygen to decrease the half-life of COHb remain controversial.
PMID: 26563790 [PubMed – in process]