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Incidence of a low tissue oxygen saturation in a mixed population of critically ill patients


Tissue oxygen saturation (StO2; normal value 87 ± 6% [1]) measured with NIRS has been associated with disease severity in trauma [1]. The incidence of StO2 <75% that has been associated with organ failure [2] and its clinical consequences for ICU patients are unknown.


StO2 was measured on the thenar eminence (InSpectra StO2 Monitor Model 650; Hutchinson Technology) of all patients present in the ICU during 1 week. All patients were measured only once (on Monday when already admitted, or on the day of admission). Data are presented as mean ± SD unless otherwise specified.


Forty-one patients (age 53 ± 19 years; 63% males) were included. Fifty-nine percent of the patients were admitted following surgery. Median StO2 was 83% (IQR: 75 to 88) (Figure 1). No relationship was found between day of admission and measured StO2 (Figure 2). Thirty-one patients (76%) had StO2 below normal (Figure 2, top line). Twelve (29%) patients had StO2 ≤75% (Figure 2, dotted line). Seven patients had StO2 <70; mortality of these patients was 29% vs 9% in patients with StO2 >70% (NS).

Figure 1
figure 1

Frequency distribution of StO 2 .

Figure 2
figure 2

Day of admission at time of measurement vs StO 2 .


The incidence of an abnormal StO2 in critically ill patients is high. Also very low StO2 values are frequently found and may be associated with increased mortality.


  1. J Trauma. 2005, 58: 806-813.2. 10.1097/01.TA.0000158269.68409.1C

  2. J Trauma. 2007, 62: 44-54. 10.1097/TA.0b013e31802eb817

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Veening, A., Ince, C. & Bakker, J. Incidence of a low tissue oxygen saturation in a mixed population of critically ill patients. Crit Care 14 (Suppl 1), P151 (2010).

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