Mean subcutaneous tissue Po2 (Psqo2) measurements were obtained in dogs with an unheated electrode placed in an implanted Silastic tonometer, while Pao2 was increased in increments from 40 to 600 torr during normal, increased, and reduced blood volume. These changes reflect that the mean Psqo2 is approximately 10 torr below the Po2 of venous blood draining that tissue. Since Pao2 was already known, the oxygen content of arterial and venous blood entering and leaving this tissue could be determined by reference to blood-oxygen dissociation curves. Therefore, relative changes in blood flow could be calculated using the Fick principle.
After a 20% blood loss, the Psqo2 measured during breathing of room air fell to 20% of baseline, corresponding to an 80% fall in sc blood flow; it remained low until the shed blood was returned despite compensatory changes in cardiac output. Rapid infusion of electrolyte solutions in normovolemic animals produced a temporary increase in local blood flow. Subcutaneous oximetry seems capable of quantifying peripheral perfusion and may be clinically useful.