Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve

The Dreaded Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve

Few phrases bring agony to the ear quite as easily as “Now we’re going to talk about the oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve”.  In reality, however, the idea behind the curve is a simple one, and one that providers of all levels should have a basic understanding of.  Check out the podcast for more!


Show Notes


The Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve

  • Sigmoidal Shape (S-Shaped)
  • Represents the percentage of hemoglobin that are saturated with oxygen depending on the partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) in the blood.
  • Oxyhemoglobin represented on the y-axis (vertical)
  • Partial pressure of oxygen represented on the x-axis (horizontal)

Shifts in the curve

  • Shifts are normal depending upon the location in the body
  • A global shift (throughout the body) in either direction is not good
  • A RIGHT shift DECREASES oxygen’s affinity for hemoglobin
  • A LEFT shift INCREASES oxygen’s affinity for hemoglobin

Causes of a Shift to the Left

  • High pH (Alkalosis)
  • Decreased Temperature
  • Decreased CO2
  • Fetal Hemoglobin

Jack, after the Titanic, sank — Left Shift


Causes of a Shift to the Right

  • Low pH (Acidosis)
  • Increased Temperature
  • Increased CO2
  • Increase in 2,3 BPG (2,3 Bisphosphoglyceric acid)

Burning Guy– Right Shift


Okay, so we know that a guy who is actually on fire has a slew of other problems we need to manage, and realistically a patient with heat exhaustion would be a better image.  The guy on fire, however, will probably create a more lasting image.


Thanks for listening/reading, please take a moment to follow the site via email so you don’t miss any future episodes!  You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, so you can let me know what you think of the show & the site!  Many of the posts and podcast episodes come from your suggestions, so I would love to hear those as well!  Until next time, stay safe & treat aggressively!

Owen Wood



Varjavand N. The Interactive Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve

Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve. [accessed 2017 Sep 21].


2 Replies to “Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve”

  1. Nice podcast on something that always takes me a few minutes to recall properly!

    Would be interested in hearing this concept expanded to the COPD patient context, and the relationship between the disassociation curve, Haldane effect, and judicious oxygen administration in those patients.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.