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Relationship between central venous oxygen saturation measured in the inferior and superior vena cava


Central venous saturation ScvO2 proved a useful alternative to mixed venous saturation, and also a reliable parameter to evaluate the oxygen debt in emergency and intensive care [13]. Under special circumstances of anatomical or coagulation disorders, however, canulation of the jugular or subclavian veins are not recommended. In these cases the femoral vein has to be catheterised. The aim of our prospective study was to investigate the relationship between the ScvO2 measured in the superior vena cava (ScvsO2) and in the inferior vena cava (ScviO2).


After local ethics committee approval every ICU patient with two central venous catheters (one subclavian/internal jugular and one femoral) entered the study. Parallel blood gas analyses were performed in random, whenever ScvO2 was requested by the attending physician. Vital parameters (heart rate, mean arterial pressure, Glasgow Coma Scale, respiratory parameters) and the dose of vasopressor and sedative drugs were also recorded. Results were compared using Wilcoxon test, Pearson correlation and Bland–Altman plots.


In 13 patients 47 matched pairs were compared. Although ScvsO2 = median 79% (range: 50–85) was significantly higher than ScviO2 = 71% (45–87), P < 0.001, there was significant correlation between the two variables (r = 0.690, P < 0.001). Bland–Altman plots showed a mean bias of 7.6% with lower and upper levels of agreement of -5.6 and 20.7, respectively. The dose of vasopressor (norepinephrine) and dose of sedative (propofol) had a significant influence on the measured difference between the investigated variables (r = 0.562, P < 0.001; r = 0.538, P < 0.001, respectively).


The preliminary results of this study show that ScviO2 underestimates ScvsO2 with a low level of agreement and that this difference is affected by vasopressor support and sedation. ScviO2 may be useful, however, for monitoring the trend of ScvsO2.


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Leiner, T., Mikor, A., Heil, Z. et al. Relationship between central venous oxygen saturation measured in the inferior and superior vena cava. Crit Care 12 (Suppl 2), P73 (2008).

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