Introducing the Capnospot: Colorimetric Capnography-Based Decompression of Tension Pneumothorax

Feb 5th 2024

Tension pneumothorax is the leading cause of preventable trauma mortalities in cases of blunt or penetrating force trauma to the chest. The rate of fatality without immediate treatment prioritizes its treatment in emergency scenarios. However the current standard of care relies on an audible cue, making it difficult, if not impossible, to verify in the chaotic nature of the prehospital environment. The Pneumeric Capnospot Pneumo Decompression Indicator offers an innovative solution by eliminating this guessing game, offering a clear, visual indicator of success.

Pneumeric Capnospot Pneumo Decompression Indicator

Created by a board certified general surgeon, the Capnospot is set to become the new, gold standard for care in tension pneumothorax. The Capnospot uses colorimetric capnography to visually indicate a successful procedure by detecting the increased carbon dioxide effusion present when the pressure is released. Designed with a luer lock, the Capnospot can be attached to any decompression needle or angiocatheter for the procedure. (The Tension Pneumothorax Access Pack (TPAK) is a popular choice amongst providers). The device features a sampling chamber with colorimetric paper, and a one-way valve. The design allows for the in-line sampling of air from the patient as it flows through the valve into the sampling chamber. The capnography paper is purple in ambient air has a 0.04% CO2 by volume and changes to bright yellow when exposed to an exhalation of air at a rate of 5% CO2 by volume. This color change occurs within 3 to 5 seconds, offering a nearly instantaneous confirmation of a successful needle placement.1

Tension Pneumothorax Access Pack (TPAK)

This eliminates the need to rely on a subjective response, which had previously relied on listening for an "audible gust of air". Testing based on animal models indicated a 100% success rate when using capnography-based needle decompressions in comparison to a 60% success rate when using the standard methodology.2 Furthermore, the Capnospot offers additional value during transport as, if the needle should shift, or the procedure should otherwise fail, the color of the Capnospot will revert back providing again a visual indication of failure, reducing the risk to the patient of needing to rely on the patient's vitals or other subjective indicators.

Tension pneumothorax has a very high mortality rate if not treated with successful decompression. The Pneumeric Capnospot Pneumo Decompression Indicator aims to become the new standard for care by offering a quantitative and objective indication of success rather than relying on the often difficult to perceive current standard. Because the Capnospot attaches directly to the decompression needle or angiocatheter it requires no additional training in order to use it as part of the standard procedure for care. Additionally, because most providers are also familiar with capnography procedures recognition of successful decompression is also intuitive. The Capnospot offers an additional tool in the emergency medical care providers arsenal to ensure efficient and effective care of patients in advanced trauma life support scenarios.

1. Zietlov, J., Hernandez, M., Bestland, A., Musa, J., Ferrara, M., Berns, K., Anderson, J., Zielinski, M., & Aho, J. (2021). “Decompression of Tension Pneumothorax in a Trauma Patient –First Use of a Novel Decompression Colorimetric Capnography Device in Human Patient”. General Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, 69(2), 391.

2. Naik ND, Hernandez MC, Anderson JR, Ross EK, Zielinski MD, Aho JM. Needle Decompression of Tension Pneumothorax with Colorimetric Capnography. Chest. 2017 Nov;152(5):1015-1020. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2017.04.179. Epub 2017 May 10. PMID: 28499514; PMCID: PMC5812769.