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October 16, 1981

Direct Arterial Blood Pressure Measurements

Author Affiliations

White Plains (NY) Dermatology Associates, PC
Rolling Hills Estates, Calif

JAMA. 1981;246(16):1770. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320160012011

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To the Editor.—  This is in response to the letter of Elemer K. Zsigmond, MD (1981;245:703), in which he compares direct intra-arterial blood pressure (BP) measurements unfavorably with those obtained by a computerized oscillometric device.Blind reliance on intra-arterial readings can result in serious iatrogenic complications. However, the same can be said about any diagnostic modality. Constant vigilance is always in order.In the operating room, the direct arterial line has distinct advantages: One receives beat-by-beat information rather than historical evidence of the situation a minute or so ago; there are no artifacts such as those produced when an assistant inadvertently leans against the cuff; and last, one can readily obtain samples for arterial blood gas determinations and other laboratory analyses.As to the hazards of arterial cannulation, they are few with careful management and are far outweighed by the advantages cited here.