This study compared the performance of forehead reflectance and conventional pulse oximetry (SpO(2)) in mechanically ventilated, anesthetized patients undergoing major abdominal surgery with either laparoscopic or laparotomic techniques.SpO(2) was continuously measured both with a forehead reflectance and a conventional digit sensor in 20 ASA physical status I-III, anesthetized patients undergoing either a laparotomic (group Laparotomy, n = 10) or laparoscopic (group Laparoscopy, n = 10) major abdominal surgery. SpO(2) values measured with the two sensors were continuously recorded at 10-second intervals during the entire procedure, and then analyzed for consistency.In group Laparotomy finger and forehead readings remained consistently similar during the study period; on the contrary, in group Laparoscopy forehead SpO(2) readings showed a much wider variability. The mean (95\% Confidence Intervals) difference between finger and forehead SpO(2) readings was 2.0\% (-1.3\% to +6.0\%) in group Laparotomy and 2.5\% (-3.5\% to +8.4\%) in group Laparoscopy (p = 0.001); however, in group Laparoscopy the mean difference between digit and forehead SpO(2) values increased from 0.2\% (CI(95): -2.1\% to +2.5\%) during the first hour to 4.5\% (CI(95): -2.5\% to +11-5\%) in the second hour (p = 0.0005), and 3.1\% (CI(95): -2.4\% to + 8.6\%) in the third hour of surgery (p = 0.0005). Clinically relevant desaturation (decrease of SpO(2) < 89\% for > or =30 s) detected with the forehead sensor in the Laparoscopy group was significantly more frequent and longer lasting than with conventional digit sensor. No differences were observed in group Laparotomy.Forehead reflectance oximetry is as accurate as conventional digit based oximetry in mechanically ventilated patients undergoing laparotomic surgery in the supine position, but is significantly influenced by patient positioning and pneumoperitoneum during laparoscopic surgery.
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