Proposed safe apnea test using positive end-expiratory pressure valve and short-term blood gas analysis Observational study

Jin Park, Young Joo Lee, Kyung Sook Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The apnea test is an essential examination for the determination of brain death; however, hypotension, hypoxemia, and other complications during the apnea test can affect the stability of brain-dead patients, as well as organ function for recipients. Therefore, it is necessary to establish standard guidelines for apnea testing. The modified apnea test (MAT) comprises delivery of 100% oxygen through the endotracheal tube connected to manual resuscitator (Ambu bag) with the positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) valve after disconnection of the mechanical ventilator for maintenance of PEEP. Forty-nine instances of the conventional apnea test (CAT) were performed in 25 brain-dead patients; 77 instances of the MAT were performed in 39 brain-dead patients. The mean duration of the apnea test was 3.5 ± 1.4 minutes in the CAT group and 3.0 ± 1.2 minutes in the MAT group. There were no significant changes in PaCO2, PaO2, or pH between the CAT and MAT groups (P = .341, .593, and .503, respectively). In overweight patients (body mass index ≥ 23 kg/m2), MAT prevented dramatic reductions in PaO2 and SaO2 (P < .05 for both). In the patients who had hypoxic brain injury due to hanging, differences in PaO2 and SaO2 in the MAT group were significantly smaller than in the CAT group (P < .05). Although MAT, which was invented to maintain PEEP, was not efficient for all brain-dead patients, it could be helpful in selected patient groups, such as overweight patients or those who had hypoxic injury due to hanging. And clinicians should consider short-term apnea test to avoid unnecessarily prolonged hypoxemia. Abbreviations: ABGA = arterial blood gas analysis, APACHE = Acute Physiologic Assessment and Chronic Health Evaluation, BMI = body mass index, CAT = conventional apnea test, EEG = electroencephalogram, IRB = institutional review board, MAT = modified apnea test, PaCO2 = arterial carbon dioxide partial pressure, PaO2 = arterial partial pressure of oxygen, PEEP = positive end-expiratory pressure, SaO2 = oxygen saturation, SPECT = single-photon emission computerized tomography.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15602
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

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Copyright © 2019 the Author(s).


  • apnea test
  • brain death
  • organ procurement
  • positive end-expiratory pressure


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