Carbon Monoxide Headquarters

Acute CO Poisoning:

Neuropsychological Damage from Carbon Monoxide:

Study Title:
Diagnosis and treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning

Piantadosi, C.A.


Respir. Care Clin. N. Am., 5 (2), pgs. 183-202.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a common occurrence in today's society. Most such poisonings are a direct consequence of inhaling the toxic byproducts of combustion. Exposure to toxic amounts of CO occurs most often during inhalation of automobile exhaust or smoke resulting either from faulty heating systems or industrial accidents. CO poisoning is associated primarily with injury to the brain and the heart because the gas binds to hemoglobin and interferes with these organs' need for a continuous supply of oxygen. Prompt recognition of CO poisoning and treatment of the patient with oxygen are essential to prevent long-term damage and delayed neurologic sequelae.

Location of Authors:
Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA

Figure 2. Lack of relationships between neuropsychiatric test scores (memory, concentration, orientation, attention) and COHb level on presentation after CO poisoning. Eighteen severely poisoned patients who met criteria for hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy had neuropsychiatric tests before treatment. No relationship was observed between the cognitive scores and COHb (=HbCO) concentration at presentation. The shaded bands represent normal ranges for the test scores.


  • Many patients suffered decrements in various cognitive parameters (memory & aspects of executive functioning).
  • Patients who suffered cognitive deficits were just as likely to have low COHb as to have high COHb values.

    ...... last changed 07/01/02

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