In the pursuit of advancing nephrology care, a researcher at Riley Children’s Health conducts a pivotal study to explore the correlation between renal tissue oxygenation and various blood gas oxygen saturation levels in premature neonates.
Through a thorough, collaborative process, the research reveals crucial insights into the realm of neonatal physiology, where patients and their families at Riley Children’s are greatly benefiting.
Among the contributing collaborators to spearhead the study is Michelle C. Starr, MD, a pediatric nephrologist at Riley Children’s whose clinical expertise particularly focuses on birth defects in the kidney and acute kidney injury in neonates. Aiming to further understand the complex relations between oxygen levels and kidneys, Dr. Starr recently worked with national specialists to seek the underlying factors influencing oxygenation in premature babies.
The study, led by Matthew Harer, MD, a neonatologist at the University of Wisconsin and head of the University of Wisconsin Renal Investigative Neonatal Network (URINN), included 35 neonates born at gestational ages below 32 weeks and used 25 umbilical venous catheters, 151 artery catheters and 68 capillary heel blood samples to measure oxygen levels in the participants’ blood. In conclusion, the outcomes showed notable disparities in oxygen saturation levels across the diverse measurements – the oxygen levels in the kidneys were far lower than the levels in the umbilical cord, the arteries and the capillary oxygen saturation.
“These results tell us that we need to do further in-depth explorations behind the correlations between these parameters,” Dr. Starr said. “While we are at a good starting point, more research is needed to fully understand how kidneys and oxygen levels work together in babies.”
On a positive note, the measurements are not too far off, as the analysis uncovered close associations between the regional renal tissue oxygen saturation (RrSO2) and the arterial oxygen saturation, as well as the capillary oxygen saturation.
“Now that we have these data points, we’ll take this information to further discover what it could mean for the future of our neonatal patients,” Dr. Starr added.
Even so, results of Dr. Starr’s study, which were published in the American Journal of Perinatology earlier this year, prove researchers should prospectively evaluate if RrSO2 truly reflects oxygenation in neonates. From here, she also plans to take this newfound understanding to implement into her own practices at Riley Children’s.
“I chose pediatric nephrology because it allowed me to blend together my love of science and physiology with that love of taking care of patients,” she said. “In studies like this one, I’m able to further provide that care and expertise to patients and their families.”
In addition to this research trial, Dr. Starr has released a number of publications to advance pediatric nephrology, where her latest research highlights telemedicine and continuous kidney replacement therapy as well as acute kidney injury. Learn more about Dr. Starr and the pediatric nephrology department at Riley Children’s in the annual report.