Oxygen is a drug, and like any other, we must determine the appropriate dose.
This collaboration between trainee networks, PLAN (Pan-London Perioperative Audit and Research Network) and SPARC (Southcoast Perioperative Audit & Research Collaboration) sought to establish how UK anaesthetists administer and titrate oxygen during surgery.
We found that patients undergoing major surgery in different hospitals across the UK routinely experience higher blood oxygen levels than normal (hyperoxaemia). The average oxygen concentration administered during surgery was 50%: higher than the 21% we normally experience when living at sea-level, and higher than the 30% typically quoted as the “standard” oxygen concentration in many studies of the effect of oxygen concentration on health outcomes after surgery.
The toxic effects of oxygen depend on both its concentration and the time of exposure – and to highlight this, we plotted cumulative oxygen dose to provide anaesthetists with an alternative way of thinking about the dose of oxygen they administer during surgery.