What is the prognosis of carbon monoxide poisoning relevant from smoke inhalation?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Concurrent CO poisoning and inhalation of other products of combustion can cause hypoxemia, end-organ injury, and morbidity. CO intoxication is a particularly serious consequence of smoke inhalation and may account for as much as 80% of fatalities from inhalation injury.

Most patients who arrive alive to the emergency department make a full recovery. However, up to one third of patients with significant CO exposure develop a secondary syndrome of long-term neurologic or neuropsychiatric dysfunction within 1-3 weeks after exposure. Higher cortical functions seem most severely affected. Whether the use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy alters the outcome of delayed-onset neurologic dysfunction from CO poisoning remains controversial.

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