The changes in transcutaneous oxygen tension (TcPO2) during 123 observations of 10 care procedures were compared with the intrinsic variability of the TcPO2 at the time of the procedures. Standard deviations of the TcPO2 were measured by planimetry from continuous recording in undisturbed infants during a 10-minute control period immediately before each procedure. The decrement of TcPO2 during the procedure and the change in TcPO2 5 minutes after the procedure had ended were measured. A chest x-ray film had the most striking early hypoxic effect, but all the procedures produced early hypoxia in at least one-quarter of the infants. The significant decreases in oxygenation with particular procedures indicate areas in which changes in techniques might be applied to the benefit of the neonate.
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