Near-infrared spectroscopy-derived tissue oxygen saturation in battlefield injuries: a case series report
© Beilman and Blondet; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009
Received: 14 April 2009
Accepted: 19 June 2009
Published: 19 June 2009
Near-infrared spectroscopy technology has been utilized to monitor perfusion status in animal models of hemorrhagic shock and in human traumatic injury. To observe the effectiveness of such a device in a combat setting, an FDA-approved device was used in conjunction with standard resuscitation and therapy of wounded patients presenting to the 228th Combat Support Hospital (CSH), Company B, over a three-month period.
Materials and methods
These observations were performed on patients presenting to the 228th CSH, Co B, at Forward Operating Base Speicher, outside of Tikrit, Iraq, between the dates of June 15 and September 11, 2005. We utilized the Inspectra™ 325 tissue oxygen saturation (StO2) monitor (Hutchinson Technology, Inc; Hutchinson, MN, USA) with the probe placed on the thenar eminence or on another appropriate muscle bed, and used to monitor StO2 during early resuscitation and stabilization of patients.
During the above time period, 161 patients were evaluated at the CSH as a result of traumatic injury and the device was placed on approximately 40 patients. In most patients, StO2 readings of greater than 70% were noted during the initial evaluation. No further information was collected from these patients. In 8 patients, convenience samples of StO2 data were collected along with pertinent physiologic data. In these patients, StO2 levels of below 70% tracked with hypotension, tachycardia, and clinical shock resulted in increases in StO2 after resuscitation maneuvers.
Near-infrared spectroscopy-derived StO2 reflected and tracked the resuscitation status of our patients with battlefield injuries. StO2 has significant potential for use in resuscitation and care of patients with battlefield injuries.
Optimal treatment for early hemorrhagic shock includes adequate control of bleeding followed by restoration of tissue oxygen delivery with appropriate resuscitation. Unfortunately, from a military perspective, this optimal strategy may not be available for many patients due to field situations that preclude prompt transport to the appropriate treatment facility . Therefore, determination of the magnitude of shock using a rapid, non-invasive method may be useful at the point of care in the field in both military and urban trauma settings. Such a method has the potential to be of use for appropriate triage depending on availability of medical resources.
To observe the effectiveness of such a device in a combat setting, an FDA-approved device was used in conjunction with standard resuscitation and therapy of wounded patients presenting to the 228th Combat Support Hospital (CSH), Company B, over a three-month period.
Materials and methods
Patients were brought to the 228th CSH via ground ambulance or helicopter after traumatic injury. Patients were evaluated by a team of physicians and health care providers using a standardized ATLS protocol and after stabilization taken as appropriate to the operating room and/or prepared for transfer to a higher level of care. Patients were monitored during resuscitation and early evaluation using clinical parameters, continuous EKG and pulse oximetry, and other monitors (e.g. bladder catheterization) as appropriate. In situations where more than one patient was evaluated concurrently, an attempt was made to place the StO2 monitor on the most severely injured patient. Convenience samples of demographic data, vital signs, laboratory data, and StO2 data were collected on patients as patient care permitted.
Comparison of StO2 levels at presentation and after resuscitation maneuvers.
Post resuscitation StO2
Bilateral lower extremity IED
2 LR, 2 PRBCs
IED blast, right leg, left flank
2 LR, 1 PRBCs
GSW left thigh
Abdominal compartment syndrome
Bilateral lower extremity IED
GSW right arm
0.5 LR (9 y/o)
A 36-year-old male was injured from an improvised explosive device (IED) and presented with near amputations of both lower extremities. He arrived at the emergency medical treatment area (EMT) with blood pressure (BP) of 110/70 mm Hg and heart rate (HR) of 120/min. His initial StO2 reading was 51% from the right thenar eminence. He received 1 liter of lactated ringers (LR) with an increase in StO2 to 76% and was taken to the operating room (OR) where he underwent a right below the knee amputation and debridement and external fixator placement for a complex left tibia fracture.
The next morning, the patient's StO2 was noted to be low at 40%. His BP was 105/72 mm Hg and HR was 130/min with hemoglobin of 8.9 g/dl. Over the next 2 hours, the patient received 300 cc of 25% albumin, 1 liter of LR, and 1 unit of packed red blood cells (PRBCs) with HR decreasing to 110/min, and BP increasing to 130/70 mm Hg, and urine output of 150 cc over the previous hour. StO2 increased to 73%.
This patient's post-injury course was long and complicated. After multiple operations including debridements and skin grafting, the patient was discharged from the hospital approximately 2.5 months after his initial injury.
A 24-year-old male was seen in the EMT after a gunshot wound (GSW) to the abdomen. His initial vital signs included a BP of 90/60 mm Hg and HR of 120/min. His initial StO2 from the thenar eminence was 50%. He received 1 liter of LR with an increase of his BP to 110/70 mm Hg and StO2 to 82%. He was taken to the OR where he was found to have a tangential transverse colon injury. He underwent a primary repair and recovered and was discharged from the hospital approximately 2 weeks post-injury.
A 20-year-old male presented to the EMT after a high-velocity GSW to the left hip. At the time of presentation, two peripheral intravenous (IV) lines, which had been placed in the field, were infiltrated. One wound was noted in the left lateral hip and the patient had a distended, tense, and tender abdomen. His initial BP was 56/30 mm Hg and HR was 150/min. Arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) was 100% and thenar StO2 was 54%. A left subclavian line was placed and patient received 1 liter of crystalloid with a response of BP to 110/70 mm Hg and HR to 120/min. His StO2 increased to 88%.
He was taken to the OR where exploratory laparotomy and repair of small bowel enterotomies was carried out. Proctoscopy was negative. He received 4 units of PRBCs and 2500 cc of crystalloid in the OR. His postoperative vitals were BP of 110/68 mm Hg, HR of 100/min, SaO2 of 100% and StO2 of 89%. Two hours later, he became hypotensive and oliguric and StO2 decreased to 65%. He received 2 liters of crystalloid, 2 units of fresh frozen plasma (FFP), and 1 unit of PRBCs with an improvement of BP, urine output, and StO2 (82%).
His post-injury course was complicated and included development of necrotizing muscle infection, internal iliac arterial bleed, and ureteral fistula requiring left nephrectomy. He was eventually discharged from the hospital 3 months after his injury.
A 36-year-old male suffered an IED injury resulting in a massive injury to the right lower extremity. He was hypotensive in the field with a systolic BP (SBP) of 77 mm Hg. A tourniquet was placed and the patient was transferred via air to our facility. He arrived at the EMT with a SBP of 69 mm Hg, HR of 150/min, SaO2 of 91%, and StO2 of 51%. In the ED he received 2 liters of LR and 1 unit of O negative PRBCs with an improvement of his vital signs and StO2 (SBP 110 mm Hg, HR 125/min, StO2 71%). Initial injuries noted included left pulmonary contusion, open right femur fracture, large soft tissue injury in left buttocks, and laceration of the right radial artery.
He was taken to the OR where the tourniquet was removed and injuries to the profunda femoral artery and vein were noted. Multiple branches were ligated and oversewed. The sciatic nerve and superficial femoral artery were both intact. The patient had massive soft tissue injury that was widely debrided. The shrapnel in his left buttocks was removed (proctoscopy was negative). He developed coagulopathy, an external fixator was placed, and the patient was returned to the intensive care unit (ICU) for further resuscitation (INR: 10, platelets: 33,000, and hemoglobin: 3.9 g/dl). During his OR course the patient's StO2 dropped to 51% just prior to transfer to the ICU. His final OR temperature was 36.6°C. OR fluids included 13 liters of crystalloid, 4 units of FFP, and 9 units of PRBCs.
On arrival in the ICU, the patient's initial SBP was 82 mm Hg, HR 130/min, and StO2 50%. Initial hemoglobin was 7.9 g/dl and base deficit was 16 mEq/L. Over the next 4 hours the patient received 9 units of FFP, 10 mg of vitamin K, 2 units of fresh whole blood, 4 units of PRBCs, 200 cc of 25% albumin, 2 liters of LR, and 6500 mcg of Factor VIIa. Two hours into the resuscitation 2 plateletpheresis packs arrived via helicopter and were given. With this therapy the patients' vital signs and urine output improved gradually (BP 100/70 mm Hg, HR 90/min, and urine output 150 cc/hour) and his laboratory parameters likewise showed improvement with a normal INR, hemoglobin of 8.6 g/dl, platelets of 70,000/ml, and base deficit of 7 mEq/L. StO2 likewise slowly improved (65%).
Care of patients in the austere environment of the battlefield presents challenges to the clinician, including limited access to invasive monitoring techniques readily available in the care of civilian trauma patient. Equipment utilized in a field situation must be readily transportable, rugged, reliable, and easy to use. Over the years, many technologies originally developed for civilian use have found their way into the armamentarium of battlefield care, including bedside ultrasound and computed tomography. Near-infrared spectroscopy has a similar promise for field use.
The patient experiences described above suggest that NIR spectroscopy-derived StO2 is able to serve as a non-invasive tool for early identification and treatment of hypoperfusion in the severely injured trauma patient. Nevertheless, in the present case series, the small number of patients described and the observational nature of this report preclude any generalization or formal recommendation.
A recent study of 383 trauma patients at 7 civilian trauma centers has identified the association of a low StO2 with both multiple organ failure and mortality . There are currently no prospective studies examining its use as an endpoint for therapy in hemorrhagic shock. In the 8 patients described, StO2 followed the clinical course of the patient and in the 7 surviving patients tracked resuscitation status, suggesting that this measure may be potentially useful as such an endpoint. In addition, the readings from the StO2 monitor were more rapidly available and easier to categorize than other invasive or non-invasive hemodynamic tools used for determining need for additional resuscitation, and also had the advantage of easy interpretation regardless of the level or experience of the care provider. While there were no instances in this small series of abnormally low StO2 before clinical symptoms of shock were present, there is also the potential for such a device to be useful in early identification of "sub-clinical" shock.
Equally appealing is the possible use of StO2 in a triage setting in either civilian or military trauma. Such a use has the added benefit of giving a number to confirm the presence of tissue hypoperfusion for less experienced care providers. These potential benefits have led to the incorporation of StO2 as another tool for early evaluation of trauma patients at several civilian trauma centers.
Previous work from our lab in a porcine model of severe hemorrhagic shock identified StO2 as a significant predictor of eventual mortality in this setting , with StO2 significantly lower in the cohort of animals that were unsuccessfully resuscitated.
Near-infrared spectroscopy-derived StO2 reflected and tracked the resuscitation status in the observed severely injured patients suffering battlefield injuries. StO2 has significant potential for use in resuscitation and care of patients with battlefield injuries.
About the authors
GJB serves as a Colonel in the United States Army Reserve. He's also Professor of Surgery and Anesthesia, Chief of the Division of Surgical Critical Care/Trauma, Vice Chair of Perioperative Services and Quality Improvement in the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
JJB served as a postdoctoral research associate at the Division of Surgical Critical Care/Trauma and currently is a general surgery resident in the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota.
The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the staff of the 228th Combat Support Hospital, Company B.
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