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February 1990

Capillary Blood Gases in the Neonate: A Reassessment and Review of the Literature

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Newborn Medicine (Drs Courtney, Malin, and Bender) and the Department of Respiratory Therapy (Ms Weber and Mr Breakie), Children's Medical Center, and the Department of Pediatrics, Wright State University (Drs Courtney, Malin, Bender, Guo, and Siervogel), Dayton, Ohio.

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(2):168-172. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150260046025

• Heel puncture capillary blood gas (CBG) measurements continue to be used in neonates for estimating arterial blood gas values. Review of the literature reveals general agreement that CBG Po2 values are of little use in predicting arterial Po2 and that CBG pH values are reliable predictors of arterial pH; opinion varies regarding CBG Pco2. We conducted a two-part study comparing postductal arterial and CBG values. First, 50 infants were studied, each only once. All infants had umbilical arterial catheters in place. Blood was obtained simultaneously from the umbilical artery catheter and the warmed heels. Results demonstrated poor predictability of arterial values from CBG pH and Pco2 as well as for Po2. Second, to determine if variation both within and among individuals was similar, repeated measurements were made in 27 additional infants comparable to the first group. We obtained 3 to 28 simultaneous postductal arterial and CBG samples from each infant. A random-effects nested analysis of variance indicated that for pH, variation was largely the result of between-subject or within-subject replicates effects, while for Po2 and Pco2, most variation was explained by differences between the two techniques (umbilical artery catheter vs CBG). The results indicate that CBG measurements do not accurately predict arterial values in neonates. Extreme caution should be used when management decisions are based on CBG values.

(AJDC. 1990;144:168-172)