Evid Based Nurs 3:85 doi:10.1136/ebn.3.3.85
  • Assessment

Individualised limits for SpO2 were no better than fixed limits for detecting hypoxia or hyperoxia in sick infants

 QUESTION: Are individualised limits for arterial oxyhaemaglobin saturation (SpO2) assessed by pulse oximetry as accurate as fixed limits for detecting hypoxia and hyperoxia in sick newborn infants?


Comparison of sensitivities and specificities of individualised and fixed SpO2 limits for detecting hypoxia or hyperoxia.


A neonatal intensive care unit in Liverpool, UK.


95 infants (68% boys, median gestational age 28 weeks, median birth weight 1165 g) who required arterial lines. Infants with structural congenital cardiac lesions were excluded.

Description of tests and diagnostic standard

Simultaneous measurements of SpO2 and partial pressure of oxygen in arterial blood (PaO2) (diagnostic standard) taken over a 3 year period. For each infant, ≥2 sets of measurements were required, taken ≤6 hours apart. For each pair of measurements, sensitivity and specificity of fixed SpO2 limits for detecting hypoxia (PaO2 <6 kPa) and hyperoxia (PaO …

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