Peripheral Muscle Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Variables are Altered Early in Septic Shock

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Noninvasive evaluation of muscle perfusion using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) coupled with a vascular occlusion test (VOT) may provide an early and simple marker of altered perfusion and microcirculatory function in sepsis.


The aim of the study was to compare the time-course of NIRS-derived variables with systemic measures of perfusion in an experimental model of peritonitis.


Peritonitis was induced in eight anesthetized, mechanically ventilated, adult sheep (24–34 kg), by injecting autologous feces into the peritoneal cavity. Animals were followed until death or for a maximum of 30 h. Muscle tissue oxygen saturation (StO2) was determined using NIRS on the right posterior leg and arterial VOTs were performed by intermittent intra-aortic balloon inflation. Microdialysis was used to measure muscle lactate and pyruvate levels.


Muscle StO2 was significantly lower than baseline values from 8 h after sepsis induction, but with considerable intersubject variability. The NIRS VOT ascending (Asc) slope decreased to values <120%/min in most animals from 12 h after sepsis induction. Muscle lactate/pyruvate ratios were higher than baseline from 16 h after sepsis induction. Mixed venous oxygen saturation (SvO2) decreased to <70% and blood lactate levels increased to >2 mmol/L in most of the animals only 24 and 28 h after sepsis induction, respectively. Muscle NIRS StO2 correlated strongly with femoral venous oxygen saturation (r = 0.820) and moderately with SvO2 (r = 0.436).


The muscle NIRS Asc slope after a VOT is altered earlier than global markers of tissue hypoperfusion during sepsis. This simple noninvasive test can detect early changes in peripheral perfusion in sepsis.

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