Objectives The effects of hypercapnia on regional cerebral oxygen saturation (rSO 2) during surgery are unclear. We conducted a randomised controlled trial to investigate the relationship between mild hypercapnia and rSO 2. We hypothesised that, compared with targeted normocapnia (TN), targeted mild hypercapnia (TMH) during major surgery would increase rSO 2. Design A prospective, randomised, controlled trial in adult participants undergoing elective major surgery. Setting A single tertiary centre in Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia. Participants 40 participants were randomised to either a TMH or TN group (20 to each). Interventions TMH (partial pressure of carbon dioxide in arterial blood, PaCO 2, 45-55 mm Hg) or TN (PaCO 2 35-40 mm Hg) was delivered via controlled ventilation throughout surgery. Primary and secondary outcome measures The primary endpoint was the absolute difference between the two groups in percentage change in rSO 2 from baseline to completion of surgery. Secondary endpoints included intraoperative pH, bicarbonate concentration, base excess, serum potassium concentration, incidence of postoperative delirium and length of stay (LOS) in hospital. Results The absolute difference between the two groups in percentage change in rSO 2 from the baseline to the completion of surgery was 19.0% higher in both hemispheres with TMH (p<0.001). On both sides, the percentage change in rSO 2 was greater in the TMH group than the TN group throughout the duration of surgery. The difference between the groups became more noticeable over time. Furthermore, postoperative delirium was higher in the TN group (risk difference 0.3, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.5, p=0.02). LOS was similar between groups (5 days vs 5 days; p=0.99). Conclusion TMH was associated with a stable increase in rSO 2 from the baseline, while TN was associated with a decrease in rSO 2 in both hemispheres in patients undergoing major surgery. This resulted in a clear separation of percentage change in rSO 2 from the baseline between TMH and TN over time. Our findings provide the rationale for larger studies on TMH during surgery. Trial registration number The Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12616000320459).
- respiration, artificial
- spectroscopy, near infrared