What is the role of CT scanning in the evaluation of carbon monoxide (CO) toxicity?

Updated: Sep 18, 2018
  • Author: Guy N Shochat, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Obtain a CT scan of the head with severe intoxication or change in mental status that does not resolve rapidly. Assess cerebral edema and focal lesions; most are typically low-density lesions of the basal ganglia. [30]

Positive CT scan findings generally predict neurologic complications. In one study, 53% of patients hospitalized for acute CO intoxication had abnormal CT scan findings; all of these patients had neurologic sequelae. Of those patients with negative scan results, only 11% had neurologic sequelae. [30]

Serial CT scans may be necessary, especially with mental status deterioration. One report describes the evolution of acute hydrocephalus in a child poisoned with CO, documented by serial CT scans. [31]

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