Pre-operative oximetry and capnometry: Potential respiratory screening tools

Frank E. Block, Kris Minic Reynolds, Terhi Kajaste, Kermatollah Nourijelyani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The growing number of patients admitted for outpatient surgery or for same-day admission makes it difficult to obtain thorough pulmonary evaluation. We wanted to evaluate the applicability of pre-operative pulse oximetry and capnography as possible pulmonary screening tools. In this preliminary study, 200 unselected, unmedicated adult patients who were being admitted for surgery were connected to a dual parameter patient monitor (Capnomac Ultima®, Datex). A standard adult clip-on finger probe was used for pulse oximetric oxygen saturation. Side-stream capnometry documented the end-tidal carbon dioxide and the capnogram which was recorded for further analysis. In these unmedicated patients, the oxygen saturation ranged from 91 to 99% and was found to be 94% or less in five percent (N = 10) of the cases. The end-tidal carbon dioxide ranged from 21 to 48 mmHg. In five percent of the cases (N = 10) it was found to be 45 mmHg or higher, reflecting elevated arterial CO2. When the shape of the capnogram was rated, it was found normal in 54% of the cases. Slow rising capnogram, indicating mild (N = 84) or moderate (N = 8) airway obstruction was detected in 42% or 4% of the cases respectively. Since pulse oximeter and end-tidal carbon dioxide values are often not measured until after sedation or after induction of anesthesia, patients with pre-operative abnormalities might escape pre-operative detection. In unmedicated patients, routine pre-operative or pre-admission determination of oxygen saturation, end-tidal carbon dioxide and the capnogram may be a valuable screening tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-156
Number of pages4
JournalInternational journal of clinical monitoring and computing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambulatory surgery
  • Capnography
  • Pre-admission testing
  • Pulse oximetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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