Objective: To determine the time required for the partial pressure of arterial oxygen (PaO2) to reach equilibrium after a 0.20 increment or decrement in fractional inspired oxygen concentration (FIO2) during mechanical ventilation.
Setting: A multi-disciplinary ICU in a university hospital.
Patients and methods: Twenty-five adult, non-COPD patients with stable blood gas values (PaO2/FIO2 > or = 180 on the day of the study) on pressure-controlled ventilation (PCV). Following a baseline PaO2 (PaO2b) measurement at FIO2 = 0.35, the FIO2 was increased to 0.55 for 30 min and then decreased to 0.35 without any other change in ventilatory parameters. Sequential blood gas measurements were performed at 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15, 20, 25 and 30 min in both periods. The PaO2 values measured at the 30th min after a step change in FIO2 (FIO2 = 0.55, PaO2 and FIO2 = 0.35, PaO2) were accepted as representative of the equilibrium values for PaO2. Each patient's rise and fall in PaO2 over time, PaO2(t), were fitted to the following respective exponential equations: PaO2b + (PaO2-PaO2b)(1-e-kt) and PaO2 + (PaO2-PaO2)(e-kt) where "t" refers to time, PaO2 and PaO2 are the final PaO2 values obtained at a new FIO2 of 0.55 and 0.35, after a 0.20 increment and decrement in FIO2, respectively. Time constant "k" was determined by a non-linear fitting curve and 90% oxygenation times were defined as the time required to reach 90% of the final equilibrated PaO2 calculated by using the non-linear fitting curves.
Results: Time constant values for the rise and fall periods were 1.01 +/- 0.71 min-1, 0.69 +/- 0.42 min-1, respectively, and 90% oxygenation times for rises and falls in PaO2 periods were 4.2 +/- 4.1 min-1 and 5.5 +/- 4.8 min-1, respectively. There was no significant difference between the rise and fall periods for the two parameters (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: We conclude that in stable patients ventilated with PCV, after a step change in FIO2 of 0.20, 5-10 min will be adequate for obtaining a blood gas sample to measure a PaO2 that will be representative of the equilibrium PaO2 value.