Glucose control to prevent both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia is important in an intensive care unit. Arterial blood gas analyzers and glucose meters are commonly used to measure blood-glucose concentration in an intensive care unit; however, their accuracies are still unclear.
We performed a systematic literature search (January 1, 2001, to August 31, 2012) to find clinical studies comparing blood-glucose values measured with glucose meters and/or arterial blood gas analyzers with those simultaneously measured with a central laboratory machine in critically ill adult patients.
We reviewed 879 articles and found 21 studies in which the accuracy of blood-glucose monitoring by arterial blood gas analyzers and/or glucometers by using central laboratory methods as references was assessed in critically ill adult patients. Of those 21 studies, 11 studies in which International Organization for Standardization criteria, error-grid method, or percentage of values within 20% of the error of a reference were used were selected for evaluation. The accuracy of blood-glucose measurements by arterial blood gas analyzers and glucose meters by using arterial blood was significantly higher than that of measurements with glucose meters by using capillary blood (odds ratios for error: 0.04, P < 0.001; and 0.36, P < 0.001). The accuracy of blood-glucose measurements with arterial blood gas analyzers tended to be higher than that of measurements with glucose meters by using arterial blood (P = 0.20). In the hypoglycemic range (defined as < 81 mg/dl), the incidence of errors using these devices was higher than that in the nonhypoglycemic range (odds ratios for error: arterial blood gas analyzers, 1.86, P = 0.15; glucose meters with capillary blood, 1.84, P = 0.03; glucose meters with arterial blood, 2.33, P = 0.02). Unstable hemodynamics (edema and use of a vasopressor) and use of insulin were associated with increased error of blood glucose monitoring with glucose meters.
Our literature review showed that the accuracy of blood-glucose measurements with arterial blood gas analyzers was significantly higher than that of measurements with glucose meters by using capillary blood and tended to be higher than that of measurements with glucose meters by using arterial blood. These results should be interpreted with caution because of the large variation of accuracy among devices. Because blood-glucose monitoring was less accurate within or near the hypoglycemic range, especially in patients with unstable hemodynamics or receiving insulin infusion, we should be aware that current blood glucose-monitoring technology has not reached a high enough degree of accuracy and reliability to lead to appropriate glucose control in critically ill patients.