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Anesthesiology. 2005 Jun;102(6):1110-5; discussion 5A.

Preoxygenation is more effective in the 25 degrees head-up position than in the supine position in severely obese patients: a randomized controlled study.

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Australian Center for Obesity Research and Education, Monash University, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne 3181, Victoria, Australia.



Class III obese patients have altered respiratory mechanics, which are further impaired in the supine position. The authors explored the hypothesis that preoxygenation in the 25 degrees head-up position allows a greater safety margin for induction of anesthesia than the supine position.


A randomized controlled trial measured oxygen saturation and the desaturation safety period after 3 min of preoxygenation in 42 consecutive (male:female 13:29) severely obese (body mass index > 40 kg/m) patients who were undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery and were randomly assigned to the supine position or the 25 degrees head-up position. Serial arterial blood gases were taken before and after preoxygenation and 90 s after induction. After induction, ventilation was delayed until blood oxygen saturation reached 92%, and this desaturation safety period was recorded.


The mean body mass indexes for the supine and 25 degrees head-up groups were 47.3 and 44.9 kg/m, respectively (P = 0.18). The group randomly assigned to the 25 degrees head-up position achieved higher preinduction oxygen tensions (442 +/- 104 vs. 360 +/- 99 mmHg; P = 0.012) and took longer to reach an oxygen saturation of 92% (201 +/- 55 vs. 155 +/- 69 s; P = 0.023). There was a strong positive correlation between the induction oxygen tension achieved and the time to reach an oxygen saturation of 92% (r = 0.51, P = 0.001). There were no adverse events associated with the study.


Preoxygenation in the 25 degrees head-up position achieves 23% higher oxygen tensions, allowing a clinically significant increase in the desaturation safety period--greater time for intubation and airway control. Induction in the 25 degrees head-up position may provide a greater safety margin for airway control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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