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Use of tissue oxygenation saturation in association with skin temperature as an indicator of the peripheral tissue perfusion in critically ill patients


Studies have suggested that tissue oxygenation saturation (StO2) values are insensitive in assessing peripheral perfusion. StO2 measurements may be more correctly interpreted if measured in association with the forearm-to-fingertip skin-temperature gradient (Tskin-diff). A Tskin-diff threshold of 0°C has been showed to reflect vasoconstriction. We aimed to propose a different approach for the interpretation of StO2 by adding Tskin-diff monitoring and to characterize the pattern of StO2 dynamics in patients with peripheral vasoconstriction and vasodilation. We hypothesize that monitoring StO2 with Tskin-diff can more adequately predict ICU complications than StO2 itself.


StO2 was continuously monitored on the thenar with an InSpectra Model 325 probe (Hutchinson Technology Inc., Hutchinson, MN, USA). The Tskin-diff was obtained from two skin probes (Hewlett Packard 21078A; Phips Medical Systems, Eindhoven, the Netherlands) attached to the index finger and on the radial side of the forearm. To describe the effect of variations in skin temperature on StO2, we compared StO2 in survivors and nonsurvivors stratified by the condition of peripheral circulation (vasoconstriction, Tskin-diff >0; vasodilation, Tskin-diff < 0). The first measurement was registered within 24 hours and then every 24 hours until day 3. Differences between group means were tested by the Mann–Whitney U test. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


We prospectively studied 41 consecutive critically ill patients (survivors = 29; nonsurvivors = 12): age: 49 ± 16 years; 20 septic shock, 14 nonseptic shock, seven other. No differences in StO2 were seen between survivors and nonsurvivors (day 1: 73 ± 9 vs. 78 ± 10; day 2: 74 ± 11 vs. 75 ± 11; day 3: 76 ± 10 vs. 77 ± 9). In survivors, StO2 values were significantly lower in peripheral vasoconstriction than in vasodilation (day 1: 69 ± 8 vs. 76 ± 8; day 2: 68 ± 13 vs. 78 ± 7; day 3: 71 ± 10 vs. 80 ± 9; P < 0.05). In nonsurvivors, this association was seen only on day 1 (71 ± 8 vs. 86 ± 4; P < 0.05). Compared with survivors on day 3, nonsurvivors had lower StO2 values in peripheral vasodilation (69 ± 6 vs. 80 ± 9, P = 0.02) and higher StO2 values in peripheral vasoconstriction (83 ± 7 vs. 71 ± 10, P = 0.02).


Dissociation between StO2 and skin temperature was seen more often in nonsurvivors. StO2 measured in association with skin temperature can more adequately predict ICU death than StO2 itself.

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Lima, A., Ince, C. & Bakker, J. Use of tissue oxygenation saturation in association with skin temperature as an indicator of the peripheral tissue perfusion in critically ill patients. Crit Care 13, P236 (2009).

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  • Septic Shock
  • Skin Temperature
  • Peripheral Circulation
  • Peripheral Vasodilation
  • Peripheral Vasoconstriction