The frequency and temporal distribution of postoperative respiratory depression (RD) events are not completely understood. This study determined the temporal distribution and frequency of RD episodes in postsurgical patients continuously monitored by bedside capnography and pulse oximetry.
This was a post hoc study of a subset of postsurgical patients enrolled in The PRediction of Opioid-induced respiratory Depression In patients monitored by capnoGraphY (PRODIGY) trial from 2 sites in the United States. These patients had undergone continuous bedside monitoring on general care wards. These data were adjudicated for potential RD episodes. The number of RD episodes per patient and the time of each RD episode were determined. The first RD episode experienced by a patient was classified as an “initial” episode, and the initial and all subsequent RD episodes experienced by a patient were classified as “all” episodes. A PRODIGY risk score was calculated.
Data analyzed from 250 patients contained 2539 RD episodes in 155 (62.0%, 95% confidence interval, 55.7-68.0) patients with median 2 [0–8], range of 0–545 RD episodes per patient, with a PRODIGY risk score distribution of 100 (40.0%) low, 79 (31.6%) intermediate, 70 (28.0%) high (missing data from 1 patient). Median time to the initial RD episode was 8.8 [5.1–18.0] hours postoperatively. There was a peak occurrence of initial RD events between 14:00 and 20:00 on the day of surgery, and these were associated with a large number of subsequent events in the same timeframe. The peak time of all RD episodes occurred from 02:00 to 06:00. Patients with high PRODIGY risk scores had higher incidence and greater number of RD episodes per patient (P < .001, overall comparisons between groups for both incidence [χ2] and number of episodes [Kruskal-Wallis test]).
Continuous monitoring of surgical patients demonstrates that RD episodes are common, and risk increases with higher PRODIGY scores. In this patient cohort, the rate of initial RD episodes peaked in the afternoon to early evening, while peak rate of all RD episodes occurred in early morning. Further, among patients with RD episodes, the number of episodes increased with higher PRODIGY scores.
- Question: What is the temporal distribution of postoperative respiratory depressive episodes as determined by continuous bedside capnography and pulse oximetry monitoring?
- Findings: Postoperative respiratory depressive episodes are common, frequently multiple, with initial episodes typically occurring in the afternoon to early evening and rate of all episodes peaking in the early morning.
- Meaning: Postoperative monitoring strategies should consider both the high prevalence and temporal distribution of respiratory depressive episodes.