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Respiratory Failure

Respiratory failure is, by definition, a failure of gas exchange. There are two types:

  • Type 1: hypoxaemia with a normal or low CO2
  • Type 2: hypoxaemia with a high CO2

The main symptom is shortness of breath. Signs of repiratory failure are listed in this table.

There are several pathophysiological mechanisms underlying respiratory failure, they are:

  • Alveolar hypoventilation
  • Diffusion deficit
  • Shunt
  • Ventilation – perfusion mismatch

We will now discuss all these in order.

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