32. (E) The capnogram can provide a variety of information, such as verification of the presence of exhaled CO2 after tracheal intubation, estimation of the difference in Paco2 and Petco2, abnormalities of ventilation, and the presence of hypercapnia or hypocapnia. The four phases of the capnogram are inspiratory baseline, expiratory upstroke, expiratory plateau, and inspiratory downstroke. The shape of the capnogram can be used to recognize and diagnose a variety of potentially adverse circumstances. Under normal conditions, the inspiratory baseline should be 0, indicating that there is no rebreathing of CO2 with a normal functioning circle breathing system. If the inspiratory baseline is elevated above 0, there is rebreathing of CO2. If this occurs, the differential diagnosis should include an incompetent expiratory valve, exhausted CO2 absorbent, or gas channeling through the CO2 absorbent. However, the inspiratory baseline may be elevated when the inspiratory valve is incompetent (e.g., there may be a slanted inspiratory downstroke). The expiratory upstroke occurs when the fresh gas from the anatomic dead space is quickly replaced by CO2-rich alveolar gas. Under normal conditions the upstroke should be steep; however, it may become slanted during partial airway obstruction, if a sidestream analyzer is sampling gas too slowly, or if the response time of the capnograph is too slow for the patient's respiratory rate. Partial obstruction may be the result of an obstruction in the breathing system (e.g., by a kinked endotracheal tube) or in the patient's airway (e.g., the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or acute bronchospasm). The expiratory plateau is normally characterized by a slow but shallow progressive increase in CO2 concentration. This occurs because of imperfect matching of ventilation and perfusion in all lung units. Partial obstruction of gas flow either in the breathing system or in the patient's airways may cause a prolonged increase in the slope of the expiratory plateau, which may continue rising until the next inspiratory downstroke begins. The inspiratory downstroke is caused by the rapid influx of fresh gas, which washes the CO2 away from the CO2 sensing or sampling site. Under normal conditions the inspiratory downstroke is very steep. Causes of a slanted or blunted inspiratory downstroke include an incompetent inspiratory valve, slow mechanical inspiration, slow gas sampling, and partial CO2 rebreathing (Ehrenwerth: Anesthesia Equipment: Principles and Applications, p 240).