Physiologic determinants of near-infrared spectroscopy-derived cerebral and tissue oxygen saturation measurements in critically ill patients

Neil Cody, Ian Bradbury, Ross R McMullan, Gerard Quinn, Aisling O’Neill, Kathryn Ward, Justine McCann, Daniel F McAuley, Jonathan A Silversides

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OBJECTIVES: Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a potentially valuable modality to monitor the adequacy of oxygen delivery to the brain and other tissues in critically ill patients, but little is known about the physiologic determinants of NIRS-derived tissue oxygen saturations. The purpose of this study was to assess the contribution of routinely measured physiologic parameters to tissue oxygen saturation measured by NIRS.

DESIGN: An observational sub-study of patients enrolled in the Role of Active Deresuscitation After Resuscitation-2 (RADAR-2) randomized feasibility trial.

SETTING: Two ICUs in the United Kingdom.

PATIENTS: Patients were recruited for the RADAR-2 study, which compared a conservative approach to fluid therapy and deresuscitation with usual care. Those included in this sub-study underwent continuous NIRS monitoring of cerebral oxygen saturations (SctO2) and quadriceps muscle tissue saturations (SmtO2).

INTERVENTION: Synchronized and continuous mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), and pulse oximetry (oxygen saturation, Spo2) measurements were recorded alongside NIRS data. Arterial Paco2, Pao2, and hemoglobin concentration were recorded 12 hourly. Linear mixed effect models were used to investigate the association between these physiologic variables and cerebral and muscle tissue oxygen saturations.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Sixty-six patients were included in the analysis. Linear mixed models demonstrated that Paco2, Spo2, MAP, and HR were weakly associated with SctO2 but only explained 7.1% of the total variation. Spo2 and MAP were associated with SmtO2, but together only explained 0.8% of its total variation. The remaining variability was predominantly accounted for by between-subject differences.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrated that only a small proportion of variability in NIRS-derived cerebral and tissue oximetry measurements could be explained by routinely measured physiologic variables. We conclude that for NIRS to be a useful monitoring modality in critical care, considerable further research is required to understand physiologic determinants and prognostic significance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1094
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Care Explorations
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.


  • Humans
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared/methods
  • Critical Illness
  • Male
  • Female
  • Oxygen Saturation/physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Aged
  • Oximetry/methods
  • Monitoring, Physiologic/methods
  • Brain/metabolism
  • United Kingdom
  • Oxygen/metabolism
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Quadriceps Muscle/metabolism


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