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Tissue oxygen saturation (StO2; normal value 87 ± 6% ) measured with NIRS has been associated with disease severity in trauma . The incidence of StO2 <75% that has been associated with organ failure  and its clinical consequences for ICU patients are unknown.
StO2 was measured on the thenar eminence (InSpectra StO2 Monitor Model 650; Hutchinson Technology) of all patients present in the ICU during 1 week. All patients were measured only once (on Monday when already admitted, or on the day of admission). Data are presented as mean ± SD unless otherwise specified.
Forty-one patients (age 53 ± 19 years; 63% males) were included. Fifty-nine percent of the patients were admitted following surgery. Median StO2 was 83% (IQR: 75 to 88) (Figure (Figure1).1). No relationship was found between day of admission and measured StO2 (Figure (Figure2).2). Thirty-one patients (76%) had StO2 below normal (Figure (Figure2,2, top line). Twelve (29%) patients had StO2 ≤75% (Figure (Figure2,2, dotted line). Seven patients had StO2 <70; mortality of these patients was 29% vs 9% in patients with StO2 >70% (NS).
The incidence of an abnormal StO2 in critically ill patients is high. Also very low StO2 values are frequently found and may be associated with increased mortality.