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The relationship between superior vena caval and mixed venous saturations after cardiac surgery


Global tissue hypoxia portends poor outcomes. Detection and prompt interventions designed to counter the effects of inadequate tissue perfusion are paramount. The relationship between venous saturations in different venous pools remains elusive and dependent upon the patient’s hemodynamic status.


Venous samples were drawn from the superior vena cava (SSVCO2) and pulmonary artery (MvO2) at three different time points (prior to operation (T0), immediately after weaning from CPB (T1) and on postoperative day 1 (T2)) from 89 consecutive cardiac surgical patients. Thermodilution cardiac indices and serum lactate measurements were obtained. Clinical outcomes were monitored.


The difference between the MvO2 and SSVCO2 widened over the monitored period (0.08±8.66 at T0, -1.17±7.62 at T1 and -3.12±5.88 at T2). Patients with a larger postoperative negative MvO2-SSVCO2 gradient had longer CPB and cross-clamp times (122±74 vs. 97±40, P=0.08; 87±48 vs. 68±26, P=0.04). This did not correlate with inferior clinical outcomes or laboratory markers of hypoperfusion.


The relationship between the venous saturations between different venous pools was inconsistent over the course of the immediate postoperative period, with a tendency towards expansion of the negative MvO2-SSVCO2 gradient. Widening of the gradient between MvO2 and SSVCO2 in favor of the latter correlated with the duration of the CPB and ischemic times. Extrapolating functional cardiac performance based on SSVCO2 would be unreliable in this setting, with greater errors seen following more complex operations.

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Correspondence to H Gasparovic.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Gasparovic, H., Gabelica, R., Ostojic, Z. et al. The relationship between superior vena caval and mixed venous saturations after cardiac surgery. J Cardiothorac Surg 8 (Suppl 1), P62 (2013).

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