RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Continuous pulse oximeter monitoring for inapparent hypoxemia after long bone fractures.

Journal of Trauma 2004 Februrary
BACKGROUND: Continuous pulse oximeter monitoring (CPOM) and daily intermittent arterial blood gas (ABG) were used to define the incidence, pattern, and severity of inapparent hypoxemia after long bone fractures.

METHOD: Twenty long bone fracture patients and 19 normal control patients were studied. CPOM, daily ABG, hypoxic symptoms, and features of fat embolism syndrome were monitored for 72 hours after fractures and after surgical interventions.

RESULTS: CPOM trend curves showed that all fracture patients except one had recurrent desaturations below 90% Sao2 of varying duration and depth. The lowest Sao2 was down to 60% and the longest episode lasted for 1.47 hours. ABG analysis could not show the recurrent phenomena and never detected the corresponding desaturation episodes. Long bone fracture patients had more desaturation episodes, longer total desaturation duration, and larger total area under desaturation curves in both the postfracture and postoperative periods (p < 0.05). The mean Sao2 was significantly lower in the postfracture period. Although most patients remained asymptomatic and recovered spontaneously, two required transient oxygen therapy and one progressed to fat embolism syndrome.

CONCLUSION: Inapparent hypoxia with profound desaturation is common after long bone fractures. CPOM of all patients admitted with long bone fractures is recommended for early detection. In patients who develop inapparent hypoxia, additional pulmonary insult should be avoided or undertaken with care and well timed.

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