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J R Soc Med. 1985 December; 78(12): 1019–1022.
PMCID: PMC1290056

Episodic postoperative oxygen desaturation: the value of added oxygen.


Six patients were studied following general anaesthesia for cholecystectomy or hip replacement. Intravenous morphine was given for postoperative pain relief. Continuous measurements were made of breathing pattern and arterial oxygen saturation for a 12-hour period postoperatively. The effect of breathing either air or 28% oxygen for alternate 2-hour periods was examined. There was no significant effect of oxygen on the number of periods of central apnoea, obstructive apnoea or partial upper airways obstruction. The number of episodes of decreases in oxygen saturation to below 80%, associated with these breathing disturbances, was reduced from 59 to zero by the administration of oxygen. There was a gradual improvement in oxygenation whilst breathing air during the 12-hour postoperative period. The administration of oxygen had a beneficial effect on average arterial oxygen saturation.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Catley DM. Postoperative analgesia and respiratory control. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 1984 Winter;22(4):95–111. [PubMed]
  • Catley DM, Thornton C, Jordan C, Lehane JR, Royston D, Jones JG. Pronounced, episodic oxygen desaturation in the postoperative period: its association with ventilatory pattern and analgesic regimen. Anesthesiology. 1985 Jul;63(1):20–28. [PubMed]
  • Catling JA, Pinto DM, Jordan C, Jones JG. Respiratory effects of analgesia after cholecystectomy: comparison of continuous and intermittent papaveretum. Br Med J. 1980 Aug 16;281(6238):478–480. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Crow TJ, Kelman GR. Effect of mild acute hypoxia on human short-term memory. Br J Anaesth. 1971 Jun;43(6):548–552. [PubMed]

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