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  • Poster presentation
  • Open Access

Noninvasive monitoring of peripheral perfusion with physical examination and the peripheral flow index correlates with dynamic near-infrared spectroscopy measurements in patients with septic shock

  • 1,
  • 1,
  • 1 and
  • 1
Critical Care200812 (Suppl 2) :P60

  • Published:


  • Septic Shock
  • Pulse Oximetry
  • Arterial Occlusion
  • Septic Shock Patient
  • Peripheral Blood Flow


Peripheral blood flow can be markedly impaired in septic shock. Bedside assessment of this derangement has not yet been incorporated into routine clinical practice. We hypothesize that noninvasive monitoring of peripheral perfusion with physical examination and the peripheral flow index (PFI) derived from the pulse oximetry signal can reflect sepsis-induced microcirculation alteration as measured by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in patients with septic shock.


NIRS (InSpectra) was used to quantify sepsis-induced circulatory alterations by calculating the increase rate of tissue oxygen saturation (slope-StO2) in a standard hyperaemia test (3 min arterial occlusion followed by rapid reperfusion). The increase rate of the PFI signal (slope-PFI) following the occlusion was compared with slope-StO2. We performed a physical examination of the extremities before arterial occlusion, and abnormal peripheral perfusion was defined as an increase in the capillary refill time (>4.5 s). The measurements were registered at admission after hemodynamic stability was obtained. We performed regression analysis to study the effect of abnormal peripheral perfusion on slope-StO2 and to study the relationship between slope-PFI and slope-StO2.


We prospectively studied 20 consecutive septic shock patients (age 54 ± 15 years; 16 males and four females). The admission diagnoses were 10 pneumonia, seven abdominal sepsis, two meningitis and one urosepsis. The slope-StO2 was significantly different between patients with normal peripheral perfusion (n = 8; mean = 218%/min; 95% CI = 141–339) and abnormal peripheral perfusion (n = 12; mean = 92%/min; 95% CI = 68–123). Regression analysis showed that the slope-StO2 is 138%/min lower in patients with abnormal than in patients with normal peripheral perfusion, controlled for the possible effects of central temperature (r2 = 0.42; P < 0.01). We found a strong association between slope-PFI and slope-StO2 (Pearson correlation = 0.84; P < 0.001). The effect of slope-StO2 on the slope-PFI was an increase in slope-StO2 of 90%/min per 1 unit/min slope-PFI (r2 = 0.65; P < 0.001).


Peripheral vascular reactivity in patients with septic shock, as measured by changes in StO2 following an ischemia-reperfusion challenge, is related to the clinical assessment with the capillary refill time and PFI.

Authors’ Affiliations

Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands


© BioMed Central Ltd 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.