Self-reported Race/Ethnicity and Intraoperative Occult Hypoxemia: A retrospective cohort study

Garrett W. Burnett, Blaine Stannard, David B. Wax, Hung Mo Lin, Chantal Pyram-Vincent, Samuel DeMaria, Matthew A. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Pulse oximetry is ubiquitous in anesthesia and is generally a reliable noninvasive measure of arterial oxygen saturation. Concerns regarding the impact of skin pigmentation and race/ethnicity on the accuracy of pulse oximeter accuracy exist. The authors hypothesized a greater prevalence of occult hypoxemia (arterial oxygen saturation [Sao2] less than 88% despite oxygen saturation measured by pulse oximetry [Spo2] greater than 92%) in patients undergoing anesthesia who self-reported a race/ethnicity other than White. Methods: Demographic and physiologic data, including self-reported race/ethnicity, were extracted from a departmental data warehouse for patients receiving an anesthetic that included at least one arterial blood gas between January 2008 and December 2019. Calculated Sao2 values were paired with concurrent Spo2 values for each patient. Analysis to determine whether Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Other race/ethnicities were associated with occult hypoxemia relative to White race/ethnicity within the Spo2 range of 92 to 100% was completed. results: In total, 151,070 paired Sao2–Spo2 readings (70,722 White; 16,011 Black; 21,223 Hispanic; 8,121 Asian; 34,993 Other) from 46,253 unique patients were analyzed. The prevalence of occult hypoxemia was significantly higher in Black (339 of 16,011 [2.1%]) and Hispanic (383 of 21,223 [1.8%]) versus White (791 of 70,722 [1.1%]) paired Sao2–Spo2 readings (P < 0.001 for both). In the multivariable analysis, Black (odds ratio, 1.44 [95% CI, 1.11 to 1.87]; P = 0.006) and Hispanic (odds ratio, 1.31 [95% CI, 1.03 to 1.68]; P = 0.031) race/ethnicity were associated with occult hypoxemia. Asian and Other race/ethnicity were not associated with occult hypoxemia. conclusions: Self-reported Black and Hispanic race/ethnicity are associated with a greater prevalence of intraoperative occult hypoxemia in the Spo2 range of 92 to 100% when compared with self-reported White race/ethnicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-696
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


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