Blood pressure monitoring for the anesthesiologist: A practical review

Karsten Bartels, Stephen A. Esper, Robert H. Thiele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Periodic, quantitative measurement of blood pressure (BP) in humans, predating the era of evidence-based medicine by over a century, is a component of the American Society of Anesthesiologists standards for basic anesthetic monitoring and is a staple of anesthetic management worldwide. Adherence to traditional BP parameters complicates the ability of investigators to determine whether particular BP ranges confer any clinical benefits. The BP waveform is a complex amalgamation of both antegrade and retrograde (reflected) pressure waves and is affected by vascular compliance, distance from the left ventricle, and the 3D structure of the vascular tree. Although oscillometry is the standard method of measuring BP semicontinuously in anesthetized patients and is the primary form of measurement in >80% of general anesthetics, major shortcomings of oscillometry are its poor performance at the extremes and its lack of information concerning BP waveform. Although arterial catheterization remains the gold standard for accurate BP measurement, 2 classes of devices have been developed to noninvasively measure the BP waveform continuously, including tonometric and volume clamp devices. Described in terms of a feedback loop, control of BP requires measurement, an algorithm (usually human), and an intervention. This narrative review article discusses the details of BP measurement and the advantages and disadvantages of both noninvasive and invasive monitoring, as well as the principles and algorithms associated with each technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1866-1879
Number of pages14
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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