The invention and development of blood gas analysis apparatus

  • Severinghaus J
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In 1953, the doctor draft interrupted Dr. Severinghaus' anesthesia and physiology training and sent him to the National Institutes of Health as director of anesthesia research at the newly opened Clinical Center. He developed precise laboratory partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PCO(2)) and pH analysis to investigate lung blood gas exchange during hypothermia. Constants for carbon dioxide solubility and pK' were more accurately determined. In August 1954, he heard Richard Stow describe invention of a carbon dioxide electrode and immediately built one, improved its stability, and tested its response characteristics. In April 1956, he also heard Leland Clark reveal his invention of an oxygen electrode. Dr. Severinghaus obtained one and constructed a stirred cuvette in which blood partial pressure of oxygen (PO(2)) could be accurately measured. Technician Bradley and Dr. Severinghaus combined these, making the first blood gas analysis system in 1957 and 1958, and shortly thereafter, they added a pH electrode. Blood gas analyzers rapidly developed commercially. Dr. Severinghaus collaborated with Astrup and other Danes on the Haldane and Bohr effects and their concepts of base excess during two sabbaticals in Copenhagen. Work with both Astrup and Roughton on the oxygen dissociation curve led Dr. Severinghaus to devise a modified Hill equation that closely fit their new, better human oxygen dissociation curve and a blood gas slide rule that solved oxygen dissociation curve, PCO(2), pH, and acid-base questions. Blood gas analysis revolutionized both clinical medicine and cardiorespiratory and metabolic physiology.

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  • John W. Severinghaus

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