The obesity-hypoventilation syndrome and respiratory failure in the acute trauma patient.
J Emerg Med. 2011 Apr;40(4):e67-9
Authors: Nelson JA, Loredo JS, Acosta JA
BACKGROUND: The Emergency Department experience, for many patients, involves procedures and therapies that can compromise ventilation. In the acute trauma patient, these include spinal immobilization, supine positioning, and the administration of sedative and analgesic medications. Patients with the obesity-hypoventilation syndrome have a syndrome distinct from mere obesity, and are more sensitive to these insults.
OBJECTIVE: To describe a case of respiratory failure in a patient with the obesity-hypoventilation syndrome resulting from injuries and therapies that in any other patient would not be expected to cause respiratory failure.
CASE REPORT: A 59-year-old woman suffered a mechanical fall, fractured her T6 vertebral body and right proximal humerus, and, after spinal immobilization and the administration of routine doses of opioid analgesics, suffered significant hypoxemia and respiratory acidosis. Reversal agents were ineffective, but non-invasive mechanical ventilation restored adequate respiration.
CONCLUSION: Although obesity-hypoventilation syndrome occurs in only a minority of morbidly obese patients, it is important because the consequences of respiratory failure can be severe if not recognized and anticipated. Such patients will not be able to adequately increase ventilation in response to mounting hypercapnia. The condition is easily addressed through non-invasive ventilation.
PMID: 18757156 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]