Inaccuracy of estimated resting oxygen uptake in the clinical setting

Nikhil Narang, Jennifer T. Thibodeau, Benjamin D. Levine, M. Odette Gore, Colby R. Ayers, Richard A. Lange, Joaquin E. Cigarroa, Aslan T. Turer, James A. De Lemos, Darren K. McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The Fick principle (cardiac output = oxygen uptake (VO2)/ systemic arterio-venous oxygen difference) is used to determine cardiac output in numerous clinical situations. However, estimated rather than measured VO 2 is commonly used because of complexities of the measurement, though the accuracy of estimation remains uncertain in contemporary clinical practice. Methods and Results-From 1996 to 2005, resting VO2 was measured via the Douglas bag technique in adult patients undergoing right heart catheterization. Resting VO2 was estimated by each of 3 published formulae. Agreement between measured and estimated VO2 was assessed overall, and across strata of body mass index, sex, and age. The study included 535 patients, with mean age 55 yrs, mean body mass index 28.4 kg/m2; 53% women; 64% non-white. Mean (±standard deviation) measured VO2 was 241 ± 57 ml/min. Measured VO 2 differed significantly from values derived from all 3 formulae, with median (interquartile range) absolute differences of 28.4 (13.1, 50.2) ml/min, 37.7 (19.4, 63.3) ml/min, and 31.7 (14.4, 54.5) ml/min, for the formulae of Dehmer, LaFarge, and Bergstra, respectively (P 0.0001 for each). The measured and estimated values differed by 25% in 17% to 25% of patients depending on the formula used. Median absolute differences were greater in severely obese patients (body mass index 40 kg/m2), but were not affected by sex or age. Conclusions-Estimates of resting VO2 derived from conventional formulae are inaccurate, especially in severely obese individuals. When accurate hemodynamic assessment is important for clinical decision-making, VO2 should be directly measured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 14 2014


  • cardiac output
  • catheterization
  • hemodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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