Safety of 80% vs 30–35% fraction of inspired oxygen in patients undergoing surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Katharina Mattishent, Menaka Thavarajah, Ashnish Sinha, Adam Peel, Matthias Egger, Joseph Solomkin, Stijn de Jonge, Asad Latif, Sean Berenholtz, Benedetta Allegranzi, Yoon Kong Loke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Evidence-based guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended a high (80%) fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO 2 ) to reduce surgical site infection in adult surgical patients undergoing general anaesthesia with tracheal intubation. However, there is ongoing debate over the safety of high FiO 2 . We performed a systematic review to define the relative risk of clinically relevant adverse events (AE) associated with high FiO 2 . Methods: We reviewed potentially relevant articles from the WHO review supporting the recommendation, including an updated (July 2018) search of EMBASE and PubMed for randomised and non-randomised controlled studies reporting AE in surgical patients receiving 80% FiO 2 compared with 30–35% FiO 2 . We assessed study quality and performed meta-analyses of risk ratios (RR) comparing 80% FiO 2 against 30–35% for major complications, mortality, and intensive care admission. Results: We included 17 moderate–good quality trials and two non-randomised studies with serious-critical risk of bias. No evidence of harm with high FiO 2 was found for major AE in the meta-analysis of randomised trials: atelectasis RR 0.91 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.59–1.42); cardiovascular events RR 0.90 (95% CI 0.32–2.54); intensive care admission RR 0.93 (95% CI 0.7–1.12); and death during the trial RR 0.49 (95% CI 0.17–1.37). One non-randomised study reported that high FiO 2 was associated with major respiratory AE [RR 1.99 (95% CI 1.72–2.31)]. Conclusions: No definite signal of harm with 80% FiO 2 in adult surgical patients undergoing general anaesthesia was demonstrated and there is little evidence on safety-related issues to discourage its use in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-324
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • adverse events
  • general anaesthesia
  • high FiO
  • hyperoxia
  • peri-operative outcome
  • surgical site infection
  • surgical wound infection


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