Doxapram and the fractured femur

Authors

  • H. OWEN,

    1. Harry Owen,* MB, ChB, Registrar, Sir Humphry Davy Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Infirmary, Bristol BS2 8HW, Peter Hutton, PhD, MB, ChB, Registrar, Department of Anaesthetics, Southmead Hospital, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol BS10 5NB.
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  • P. HUTTON

    1. Harry Owen,* MB, ChB, Registrar, Sir Humphry Davy Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Infirmary, Bristol BS2 8HW, Peter Hutton, PhD, MB, ChB, Registrar, Department of Anaesthetics, Southmead Hospital, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol BS10 5NB.
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  • *

    Present appointment: Department of Anaesthetics, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol BS16 1LE.

  • Present appointment: Department of Geriatric Medicine, Ham Green Hospital, Pill, near Bristol.

Summary

In a double-blind trial the effects of a single dose of doxapram (1–1.5 mg/kg) on the postoperative arterial oxygen tension of patients who had undergone surgical fixation of a fractured neck of femur was measured. In contrast to other reports of the effect of a single dose of doxapram, there was no improvement in arterial oxygen tension with respect to the control group. It is reasoned that doxapram may exert its effect by increasing the functional residual capacity in the immediate postoperative period. The central analeptic properties of doxapram may be grossly underestimated.

The widely held assumption that patients with a fractured neck of femur are significantly hypoxic pre-operatively is questioned.

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