July 1957

Postoperative Respiratory Acidosis

Author Affiliations

Durham, N. C.
Division of Thoracic Surgery and Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine.

AMA Arch Surg. 1957;75(1):57-60. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1957.01280130061011

Respiratory acidosis developing in emphysematous patients from impaired pulmonary ventilation is well known.2-4 Patients with normal lungs undergoing surgery have been observed to develop carbon dioxide retention from the failure of the anesthetist to maintain adequate ventilation.1,6 In the immediate postoperative period, it is not unexpected that instances of serious respiratory acidosis are found. This may be an exacerbation of a chronic acidosis in an emphysematous patient, or it may be acute, from interference with ventilation by events related to the operation. At Duke Hospital two postoperative patients have been studied with the two types of respiratory acidosis. An account of difficulties in recognition and the methods of treatment of this condition is outlined in this report.

Report of Cases 

Case 1.  —A 61-year-old white man, a conservation engineer, was admitted to Duke Hospital on Oct. 6, 1954, complaining of recurrent small hemoptyses, of eight weeks' duration. There

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