What are the factors that affect oxygen delivery?

Learn about the physiological factors that affect oxygen delivery in your patients in this short Medmastery article.
Last update4th Dec 2020

In order for our bodies to function efficiently—to maintain aerobic metabolism—it is important that oxygen is constantly and reliably delivered to peripheral tissues. The amount of oxygen necessary varies from organ system to organ system and is dependent on whether the subject is at rest or is exercising, or whether hypercatabolic states, like infection, are present.

Calculating oxygen delivery

Oxygen delivery (DO2) is the amount of oxygen transported per unit time and is dependent on the oxygen content of the blood and the flow of the blood.

Figure 1. Oxygen delivery (DO2) is defined as the amount of oxygen transported per unit time and is dependent on oxygen content and flow of the blood.

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So, oxygen delivery is calculated as follows.

Figure 2. Oxygen delivery (DO2) is calculated from total oxygen content (CaO2) and cardiac output (CO). Total oxygen content is calculated from the concentration of hemoglobin ([Hb]) and oxygen saturation (SaO2); cardiac output is the overall blood flow to peripheral tissues, calculated as the sum of left ventricular stroke volume (SV) and heart rate (HR).

Under normal resting conditions, an adult of average size consumes about 250 mL of oxygen per minute (VO2).

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Recommended reading

  • Grippi, MA. 1995. “Gas exchange in the lung”. In: Lippincott's Pathophysiology Series: Pulmonary Pathophysiology. 1st edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (Grippi 1995, 137–149)
  • Grippi, MA. 1995. “Clinical presentations: gas exchange and transport”. In: Lippincott's Pathophysiology Series: Pulmonary Pathophysiology. 1st edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (Grippi 1995, 171–176)
  • Grippi, MA and Tino, G. 2015. “Pulmonary function testing”. In: Fishman's Pulmonary Diseases and Disorders, edited by MA, Grippi (editor-in-chief), JA, Elias, JA, Fishman, RM, Kotloff, AI, Pack, RM, Senior (editors). 5th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Education. (Grippi and Tino 2015, 502–536)
  • Tino, G and Grippi, MA. 1995. “Gas transport to and from peripheral tissues”. In: Lippincott's Pathophysiology Series: Pulmonary Pathophysiology. 1st edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (Tino and Grippi 1995, 151–170)
  • Wagner, PD. 2015. The physiologic basis of pulmonary gas exchange: implications for clinical interpretation of arterial blood gases. Eur Respir J45: 227–243. PMID: 25323225

About the author

Michael A. Grippi, MD
Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine | Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Division, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, USA.
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