Arterial Oxygen Content (CaO₂) combines the oxygen bound to hemoglobin and the oxygen dissolved in plasma. The formula for calculating arterial oxygen content is:

Arterial Oxygen Content Formula


Hb (Hemoglobin concentration)
Hb is the hemoglobin concentration in grams per deciliter (g/dL), indicating the amount of hemoglobin available to bind with oxygen.
1.34 (Oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin)
1.34 mL O₂/g is the amount of oxygen in milliliters that one gram of hemoglobin can carry under standard conditions.
SaO₂ (Oxygen saturation)
SaO₂ represents the percentage of hemoglobin binding sites in the bloodstream that are occupied by oxygen, expressed as a decimal in calculations.
PaO₂ (Partial pressure of arterial oxygen)
PaO₂ is the partial pressure of oxygen in arterial blood, measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). It indicates the amount of oxygen gas dissolved in the blood.
0.0031 (Solubility coefficient of oxygen in blood)
0.0031 mL O₂/dL blood/mmHg is the solubility coefficient of oxygen in blood, representing the volume of oxygen dissolved directly in 100 mL of blood for each mmHg of oxygen partial pressure.

Arterial Oxygen Content Calculator

Hemoglobin (Hb):
Oxygen Saturation (SaO2):
Partial Pressure of Oxygen (PaO2):
Arterial Oxygen Content (CaO2): ml O2 per 100 ml (vol%)

How is Oxygen Transport in Blood?

Oxygen transport in the blood is a sophisticated process involving both physical dissolution in plasma and chemical binding to hemoglobin:

Bound to Hemoglobin: The majority of oxygen in blood (approximately 98.5%) is carried bound to hemoglobin. Each molecule of hemoglobin can bind up to four molecules of oxygen, forming oxyhemoglobin. The efficiency of this binding is influenced by factors like pH, temperature, and levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂) and 2,3-bisphosphoglycerate (2,3-BPG).

Dissolved in Plasma: A small fraction of oxygen (about 1.5%) is dissolved directly in the blood plasma. This amount is directly proportional to the partial pressure of oxygen (PaO₂) in the blood. Though it represents a minor portion of the total oxygen content, dissolved oxygen is crucial because it determines the PaO₂, which drives the diffusion of oxygen from blood into tissues.

Arterial Oxygen Content Percentage

CaO2 Importance in Physiology

The arterial oxygen content is a cornerstone metric in physiology and clinical medicine for several reasons:

  • Oxygen Delivery: It directly relates to the body’s capability to deliver oxygen to tissues, crucial for metabolic processes and cellular function.
  • Assessment of Respiratory and Cardiac Function: Changes in CaO₂ can indicate alterations in lung function, hemoglobin levels, or cardiac output, providing critical insights for diagnosing and managing various medical conditions.
  • Guide to Therapy: In clinical settings, monitoring CaO₂ helps guide interventions such as oxygen therapy, fluid resuscitation, and transfusions, ensuring that treatments are tailored to improve oxygen delivery to tissues.

What is the Normal Arterial Oxygen Content Range?

The normal range of Arterial Oxygen Content (CaO₂) in the blood is typically between 17 to 20 mL of oxygen per 100 mL of blood (or dL of blood). This range can vary slightly depending on the source, the measurement method, and individual health factors. The arterial oxygen content reflects the amount of oxygen being carried by the blood to tissues throughout the body, and it’s a crucial parameter for assessing a person’s oxygenation status.

Factors That Can Affect CaO₂ Levels:

  • Low Hemoglobin Levels (Anemia): Reduced hemoglobin levels can decrease CaO₂ since there are fewer hemoglobin molecules available to carry oxygen.
  • Oxygen Saturation (SaO₂): Decreased oxygen saturation, as occurs with lung diseases or in conditions leading to impaired gas exchange, can lower CaO₂.
  • Partial Pressure of Oxygen (PaO₂): While the contribution of dissolved oxygen to CaO₂ is relatively small, severe changes in PaO₂ can affect CaO₂.

Addressing Low Arterial Oxygen Content Levels:

  1. Increasing Oxygen Saturation:
    • Oxygen Therapy: Administering supplemental oxygen can increase the partial pressure of oxygen (PaO₂) and, consequently, the oxygen saturation (SaO₂), thereby increasing CaO₂.
    • Treating Underlying Conditions: Conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pneumonia that impair oxygen exchange can be treated to improve oxygen saturation.
  2. Increasing Hemoglobin Levels:
    • Iron Supplementation: For anemia caused by iron deficiency, iron supplements can increase hemoglobin levels.
    • Blood Transfusions: In cases of severe anemia, blood transfusions may be necessary to increase the hemoglobin concentration and improve oxygen carrying capacity.
  3. Managing Contributing Factors:
    • Control of Chronic Conditions: Managing conditions like heart failure or sepsis that can indirectly affect oxygen delivery and utilization.
    • Lifestyle Changes: Smoking cessation, exercise, and diet improvements can help improve overall cardiovascular health and oxygenation.

Arterial Oxygen Content Calculation Example?

  • Hemoglobin (Hb) = 15 g/dL
  • Oxygen Saturation (SaO₂) = 98 %
  • Partial Pressure of Oxygen (PaO₂) = 75 mmHg

Using the formula:

CaO2 = (Hb × 1.34 × SaO2) + (PaO2 × 0.0031)

Substitute the given values:

CaO2 = (15 × 1.34 × 0.98) + (75 × 0.0031)

Perform the calculation:

CaO2 = (20.13) + (0.2325)

CaO2 ≈ 20.36 mL O2 / dL

The arterial oxygen content for the patient is approximately 20.36 mL O2 per dL of blood.

Related Formulas

Alveolar Gas Equation

Oxygen Consumption (VO2)