Different goals have guided goal-directed therapy (GDT). Protocols aiming for central venous-to-arterial carbon dioxide gap (DCO2) <6 mm Hg have improved organ function in septic shock. Evidence for use of DCO2 in the perioperative period is scarce. We aimed to determine if a GDT protocol using central venous saturation of oxygen (SCvo2) and DCO2 reduced organ dysfunction and intensive care unit (ICU) stay in American Society of Anesthesiologist (ASA) I and II patients undergoing major surgeries compared to pragmatic goal-directed care.
One hundred patients were randomized. Arterial and venous blood-gas values were recorded every 2 hours perioperatively for all patients. Intervention group (GrI) with access to both values was managed per protocol based on DCO2 and SCvo2. Dobutamine infusion 3 to 5 µg/kg/min started if DCO2 >6 mm Hg after correcting all macrocirculatory end points. Control group (GrC) had access only to arterial-gas values and managed per “conventional” goals without DCO2 or SCvo2. Patients were followed for 48 hours after surgery. Organ dysfunction, sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) scores—primary outcome, length of stay in ICU, and duration of postoperative mechanical ventilation and hospital stay were recorded. The patient, surgeons, ICU team, and analyzer were blinded to group allocation.
The groups (44 each) did not significantly differ with respect to baseline characteristics. Perioperative fluids, blood products, and vasopressors used did not significantly differ. The GrI had less organ dysfunction although not significant (79% vs 66%; P = .2). Length of ICU stay in the GrI was significantly less (1.52; standard deviation [SD], 0.82 vs 2.18; SD, 1.08 days; P = .002). Mechanical ventilation duration (0.9 days in intervention versus 0.6 days in control; P = .06) and length of hospital stay did not significantly differ between the groups. Perioperative DCO2 (5.8 vs 8.4 mm Hg; P < .001) and SCvo2 (73.5 vs 68.4 mm Hg; P < .001) were significantly better in the GrI.
GDT guided by DCO2 did not improve organ function in our cohort. It resulted in greater use of dobutamine, improved tissue oxygen parameters, and decreased length of ICU stay. More evidence is needed for the routine use of DCO2 in sicker patients. In the absence of cardiac output monitors, it may be a readily available, less-expensive, and underutilized parameter for major surgical procedures.