Basic Principles of Noninvasive Blood Pressure Measurement in Infants

Andrea D. Stebor, RN, PhD


Adv Neonatal Care. 2005;5(5):252-261. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Correct measurement of blood pressure in infants is essential because blood pressure is an important indicator of cardiovascular status. This article provides a review of the fundamental principles of blood pressure measurement. Formulas to estimate mean arterial pressure are discussed along with an overview of pulse pressure. The advantages, challenges, and accuracy of the widely used oscillometric method of noninvasive blood pressure measurement are discussed. A step-by-step guide to noninvasive blood pressure measurement is outlined along with pragmatic strategies to ensure appropriate technique, thereby improving accuracy.

Blood pressure (BP) is a significant indicator of cardiovascular function. Correct measurement of BP is essential to neonatal care because it enables the nurse to confidently report values on which treatment might be based. Prompt identification of hypotension potentially decreases the risk of complications from cerebral ischemic injury or intraventricular hemorrhage.[1] Hypotension is a greater concern in premature infants; they have a limited ability to autoregulate cerebral blood flow when compared to full-term infants.[2] Conversely, although neonatal hypertension occurs less frequently,[3] its identification is also important. Most hypertension in infants is related to renovascular or renal causes.[3,4,5] This article reviews critical aspects of BP measurement. It also provides step-by-step techniques for reliable, noninvasive BP (NIBP) measurements to ensure that clinical care is based on valid BP values.


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