Transcutaneous oxygen (TcPo2) and carbon dioxide (TcPco2) tensions were compared with arterial values in 23 children aged 4 months to 14 years, all requiring some form of respiratory support, but not in shock. Electrodes were placed on the upper chest and were heated to 45 degrees C. For TcPo2 and arterial oxygen (Pao2) a tight linear correlation over the range 6 to 14 kPa was found. Arterial carbon dioxide (Paco2) ranged between 2.63 and 6.8 kPa, and over this range a linear regression adequately described the relation of TcPco2 to Paco2. No effects of age were found for the relation between TcPo2 and Pao2. Over a four hour period, the mean ratio TcPo2/Pao2 rose significantly from 0.96 to 1.04, while the mean ratio of TcPco2/Paco2 fell from 1.65 to 1.62. Five children developed superficial burns which were still present at 48 hours. In children who require respiratory support but are not in shock, TcPo2 and TcPco2 bear a constant and predictable relation to Pao2 and Paco2, and can predict arterial values within clinically acceptable tolerances.
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