Twelve patients anaesthetized with a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen were passively hyperventilated, muscular relaxation being provided by d−tubocurarine. Spontaneous res−piration commenced when the patients still had a marked respiratory alkalosis; in three patients active pulmonary hyperventilation occurred in the immediate postanaesthetic period. Five patients with a pre−existing respiratory acidosis also started to breathe with a blood carbon dioxide tension below the pre−operative level. It is concluded that, in conditions in which the respiratory centre is not depressed, stimuli arising in the periphery may initiate respiration despite a low arterial blood carbon dioxide tension. The clinical importance of this is discussed.
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