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Anesthesiology. 1991 Jun;74(6):980-7.

A single-blind study of combined pulse oximetry and capnography in children.

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Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


This single-blind study examined four levels of monitoring in 402 pediatric cases. Patients were randomly assigned to one of four groups: 1) oximeter and capnograph; 2) only oximeter; 3) only capnograph; or 4) neither oximeter nor capnograph data available to the anesthesia team. An anesthesiologist, not involved in patient care, observed all cases and continuously recorded hemoglobin oxygen saturation (Spo2), ECG, expired CO2, and the oximeter plethysmographic output. Mean age, weight, ASA physical status, airway management (mask or endotracheal tube), and anesthetic technique were similar in each group. Two-hundred sixty problems were documented in 153 patients. Fifty-nine events in 43 patients resulted in "major" desaturation (Spo2 less than or equal to 85% for greater than or equal to 30 s). Fifteen "major" capnograph events (esophageal intubation, disconnection, accidental extubation, or obstructed endotracheal tube) were observed in 11 patients; 8 of these also developed varying degrees of desaturation. One-hundred thirty "minor" desaturation events (Spo2 less than or equal to 95% for greater than 60 s) and 79 "minor" desaturation events (hypercarbaria or hypocarbia) were observed. A number of problems fulfilled criteria in multiple categories. Infants less than or equal to 6 months of age had the highest incidence of major desaturation events (18 of 65 [27%]) compared to toddlers 7-24 months of age or children greater than 24 months of age (P less than 0.001). Blinding the oximeter data increased the number of patients (12 vs. 31) experiencing major desaturation events (P = 0.003); blinding the capnograph data altered neither the frequency of desaturation events nor the incidence of major capnograph events.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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