A new clinical study conducted in the emergency deptartment at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital demonstrated that noninvasive measurement of carbon monoxide (CO) in the blood may help clinicians better assess acute asthma severity during and after treatment in children.

The study, presented at the [removed]Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting[/removed] showed a statistically significant association between CO in the blood and measures of lung function.

The researchers explained that this association may improve the assessment of asthma and response to treatment in young children and patients who are unconscious, heavily sedated, unable to understand and follow instructions, or have limitations that would interfere with vigorous respiratory efforts because unlike spirometry, a measure of CO levels in the blood does not require patient instruction or breathing effort.

The research team used a Pulse CO-Oximeter to measure levels of CO in the blood of 139 children (5-10 years of age) during acute asthma exacerbations and 2 hours after initiation of corticosteroid and bronchodilator treatment. After comparing measurements to conventional measures of airway obstruction and inflammation, the researchers found a significant association between these measurements and percent predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second (%FEV1, p = 0.001) and airway resistance (p = 0.04), as well as a trend with exhaled nitric oxide (eNO, p = 0.1).

Findings show that for every 6% increase in CO saturation, there was an associated 79% proportionate decrease in lung function (%FEV1, p=0.015). There was also a trend indicating measure of CO in the blood may predict lung function after 2-hours of treatment, as measured by the change in %FEV1 (p = 0.06).