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Mixed venous and central venous oxygen saturations reflect the balance between oxygen requirement and oxygen delivery, and thus may be used to assess the adequacy of tissue oxygenation. This review discusses recent data on the impact of using venous oximetry by obtaining mixed venous oxygen saturation or central venous oxygen saturation as useful monitoring parameters in critically ill patients.Monitoring of changes in the central venous oxygen saturation after major surgery has been shown to be associated with outcome. Furthermore, early goal-directed therapy for patients with severe sepsis or septic shock, which includes treatment goals for mean arterial pressure, central venous pressure, and central venous oxygen saturation, was able to increase survival in these patients. In contrast, pulmonary artery catheter usage does not affect outcome in critically ill patients.Early goal-directed therapy should be implemented in the initial resuscitation of septic patients. Central venous saturation may have prognostic significance following major surgery. Further evaluation of peri-operative trends in central venous saturation is required. Measurement of central venous oxygen saturation can easily be applied in intensive care unit patients and offers a useful, indirect indicator for the adequacy of tissue oxygenation.