I found two interesting papers in EMJ. Both recently published. If you intubate a fresh frozen cadaver and ventilate you will get a transient capnography trace very similar to a trace from a living patient. I had heard about it before but haven’t seen any evidence until now.
In the first paper, by Cliff Reid et al. obtained two cadavers in order to see wether residual CO2 could be detected post-mortem. The first cadaver had died 15 days previously, had been frozen for five days and then thawed out four days prior to study. The second cadaver had been dead since 14 days.
Both cadavers were intubated, hand ventilated and a side-stream ETCO2-detector was connected to the circuit. Both cadavers generated a normal ETCO2 trace lasting 1-2 minutes with physiological CO2 measurements.
In the second paper, Coats et al. intubate a cadaver where life had been extinct for 32 hours as part of a research project on post-mortem CT. Again a CO2-trace similar to a live patient was generated. Interestingly, the ETCO2 increased after CPR was initiated…
Papers live here: