What is the pathophysiology of methemoglobinemia from smoke inhalation?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Answer

Methemoglobinemia occurs in fire due to heat denaturation of hemoglobin, oxides produced in fire, and methemoglobin-forming materials such as nitrites. Methemoglobinemia is less common in smoke inhalation injury than CN and CO toxicity. The pathophysiologic consequences of methemoglobin formation are a decrease in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and a shift of the oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve to the left, similar to carboxyhemoglobin.


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