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Background: Oxygen supplementation is given routinely to patients undergoing surgery under spinal anaesthesia, the basic aim being to prevent oxygen desaturation and hypoxemia.
Objective: This study aimed to find out the incidence of hypoxemia under spinal anaesthesia and determine if oxygen supplementation is necessary for patients under spinal anaesthesia.
Materials and methods: This was a prospective nonrandomised study, conducted at a central hospital in Zimbabwe: Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Harare. Fifty- nine (59) consenting patients, both sexes, ASA I-IV undergoing surgery under spinal anaesthesia with standard doses of heavy bupivacaine and fentanyl were recruited. Oxygen saturation was measured before the spinal anaesthetic and continuously after the spinal anaesthetic up to the recovery room, until discharge to the ward using a Datex Ohmeda pulse oximeter. Rescue oxygen supplementation was given to patients that became hypoxemic (SPO2< 90% for >30 seconds with a normal wave form on plethysmogragh).
Results: The incidence of intra operative hypoxemia under spinal anaesthesia in this study was 1.69%, and there was a relationship between height of block and saturation change.
Conclusion: From the study, it is concluded that it is not necessary to routinely supplement oxygen to patients under spinal anaesthesia.