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March 1981

Transcutaneous PO2 Electrode Malfunction Resulting in a Third-degree Burn

Am J Dis Child. 1981;135(3):271-272. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1981.02130270063021

Transcutaneous PO2 (TcPO2) monitoring is being used widely in the management of sick neonates. The technique consists of warming the skin to 44 °C, which results in vasodilation and arterialization of the capillary bed under the electrode. Local cutaneous complications from hyperthermia are expected. Löfgren and Jacobson noted red marks at most electrode application sites, which cleared in 24 to 36 hours.1 Boyle and Oh reported blanching and nonblanching erythema of the skin that represented first-degree and mild second-degree burns, respectively. No vesicles were noted, and most erythemas cleared within 60 hours.2 Vesicles have been noted when the electrode was applied for longer periods.3-5 Riegel and Versmold observed blister formation in infants who were in shock.6 Hardman and Bamford reported full-thickness burns from an overheated electrode. The possibility of faulty circuitry was considered, but the burn was attributed to the alarm system being switched

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