The Risks of Inadequate Oxygenation – How the Right Oxygen Mask Reduces Complications
September 23, 2022
HomeBlogThe Risks of Inadequate Oxygenation – How the Right Oxygen Mask Reduces Complications
Oxygen is necessary for us to function, especially when we’re undergoing a procedure where supplemental oxygen is necessary. However, this basic necessity has not always been maintained effectively for a number of reasons, sometimes from clinician practice, underlying conditions of a patient, or the oxygen delivery devices themselves. Because adequate oxygenation is completely essential for patient safety, inadequate oxygenation comes with a range of risks, some of which are incredibly severe.
The brain is the most sensitive organ to hypoxia because it uses a significant amount of oxygen from its high metabolic activity. Without sufficient oxygen, the brain cells begin to die at 1 minute, and permanent damage can follow within 3 minutes. After the 5 minute mark, mortality becomes imminent.
Patients who sustain hypoxic brain injuries after a procedure can include irreversible damage to speech, memory and vision. Other lasting symptoms can be changes in personality, and inhibitions around balance, coordination, focus and judgment— along with many others.
Another possibility of inadequate oxygen can lead to aneurysms, which can occur years after the procedure took place. Aneurysms are caused by pressure on weak points in a blood vessel, causing it to balloon and bugle. When the brain isn’t getting enough or any oxygen, blood flow increases to tissues— creating more pressure, and thus the risk of an aneurysm.
Inadequate oxygenation causes desaturation, and without enough oxygen pressure in the blood, the heart and arteries struggle to pump normally. If a patient goes without sufficient oxygen delivery, even for a short amount of time, the heart may either start to pulse too low (Bradycardia <60) or too high (Tachycardia >100) depending on the overall cardiovascular health the patient has to begin with.
Bradycardia can cause serious risks including heart failure, cardiac arrest, and sudden death. With Tachycardia, patients may be at risk for heart failure, cardiac death and stroke. While these events may not occur right on the operating table, a patient who didn’t receive adequate oxygenation during their procedure may have complications during recovery depending on the length of time they spent desaturated.
The lungs can be quickly compromised if a patient does not have proper ventilation (thus enough oxygen) while under anesthesia. One of the risks is acute hypoxemic respiratory failure, a condition that occurs when intrapulmonary shunting of the blood after airspace fills or collapses, or by intracardiac shunting of blood from right to left side circulation.
Not all cases are this severe; patients may experience minor hypoxemic respiratory failure that can be remedied through adequate oxygenation if it is addressed immediately. There are a number of reasons this can occur, but one of them includes refractory hypoxemia. This condition comes with a high mortality rate, and has continued to be a struggle for physicians to remedy when patients enter severe hypoxemia.
Reduce Risks with the POM
The POM maximizes oxygen delivery, with up to FiO2 of 90% at flow rates of 10-12 liters per minute. The mask also maintains adequate oxygenation even when scopes, probes and tubes are inserted through the mask. To ensure oxygen delivery is maximized throughout an entire procedure, the POM also provides proven respiratory rate monitoring with end tidal CO2 to increase patient safety.
These features better ensure clinicians that they are optimizing the patient throughout the entirety of a procedure, as the mask is fit both for the operating room as well as in recovery. The risks of inadequate oxygenation are severe, and also increasingly unacceptable as delivery systems like the POM help prevent events of desaturation from happening in the first place.