Objective: To assess the diagnostic accuracy of peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2) while breathing room air for 5 min (the 'Air-Test') in detecting postoperative atelectasis.
Design: Prospective cohort study. Diagnostic accuracy was assessed by measuring the agreement between the index test and the reference standard CT scan images.
Setting: Postanaesthetic care unit in a tertiary hospital in Spain.
Participants: Three hundred and fifty patients from 12 January to 7 February 2015; 170 patients scheduled for surgery under general anaesthesia who were admitted into the postsurgical unit were included.
Intervention: The Air-Test was performed in conscious extubated patients after a 30 min stabilisation period during which they received supplemental oxygen therapy via a venturi mask. The Air-Test was defined as positive when SpO2 was ≤96% and negative when SpO2 was ≥97%. Arterial blood gases were measured in all patients at the end of the Air-Test. In the subsequent 25 min, the presence of atelectasis was evaluated by performing a CT scan in 59 randomly selected patients.
Main outcome measures: The primary study outcome was assessment of the accuracy of the Air-Test for detecting postoperative atelectasis compared with the reference standard. The secondary outcome was the incidence of positive Air-Test results.
Results: The Air-Test diagnosed postoperative atelectasis with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.90 (95% CI 0.82 to 0.98) with a sensitivity of 82.6% and a specificity of 87.8%. The presence of atelectasis was confirmed by CT scans in all patients (30/30) with positive and in 5 patients (17%) with negative Air-Test results. Based on the Air-Test, postoperative atelectasis was present in 36% of the patients (62 out of 170).
Conclusion: The Air-Test may represent an accurate, simple, inexpensive and non-invasive method for diagnosing postoperative atelectasis.
Trial registration: NCT02650037.
Keywords: SpO2; adult anaesthesia; adult intensive & critical care; atelectasis; oxygenation; postoperative.
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