2013B08 Describe the effects of resonance and damping on an invasive arterial blood pressure tracing.



·      Arterial line: components, how it works, accuracy

·      Physics of SHM: definitions

·      Dynamic accuracy


Arterial line:


·   Cannula with anti-clot

·   Compressible tubing with saline

·   Pressure transducer: diaphragm with four strain gauges (conductor)

·   Saline bag under pressure

·   1-3mL/h infusion and ability to flush

·   Electronic display


·   Continuous column between arterial blood and transducer

·   ↑↓ oscillations in pressure -> displacement of diaphragm -> stretch/relax strain gauges -> ↑/↓ electrical resistance -> amplification -> arterial trace

·   Accuracy improved by multiple strain gauges +/- Wheatstone bridge



·   Zero relative to atmospheric pressure

·   Time calibration: observe steadiness at zero

·   Height calibration: e.g. move transducer against a standard


·   Optimise damping

·   Minimise resonance


Physics of simple harmonic motion:

Natural frequency (FN)

·   Definition: tendency of a system once disturbed to oscillate at a particular frequency about its equilibrium position.

·   Determinants: FN potential energy (stiffness) / kinetic energy (mass)

o Potential energy tube elastance x diaphragm elastance

o Kinetic energy (length x tube compliance) / (radius x density)

Fundamental frequency (F0)

·   Lowest frequency oscillation within a system (e.g. heart rate in ABP trace)


·   Definition: where repeated disturbance of a system at its natural frequency (or at a close multiple of it) causes increasing amplitude of oscillation

·   Effect on ABP trace: ↑SBP, ↓DBP, mAP, contributes to peripheral dicrotic notch


·   Definition: minimization of oscillatory amplitude through viscous and frictional forces

·   Equation: damping (Length x volume of displacement x viscosity) / (diameter x density)

·   Damping coefficient: index of rate of decay of oscillations

·   Optimal damping: balance between maximizing response speed and minimizing overshoot

·   Effect on ABP trace: ↓SBP, ↑DBP, mAP, delayed waveform, loss of high frequency components e.g. incisura



To ensure dynamic accuracy:

Minimise resonance


·      FN ≥ 10x F0 hence resonance unlikely to occur

·      Flat frequency response at or near the measured frequencies

·      No exaggeration of amplitude of measured frequencies


·      ↑potential energy (stiffness): non-compliant tubing and diaphragm

·      ↓ kinetic energy: short, wide, non-compliant tubing and low density fluid

Optimise damping


·      Flat frequency response up to 2/3 of FN

·      Minimal phase distortion i.e. minimal and more homogenous lag

·      Damping coefficient 0.64

·      Exactly two oscillations after fast flush test

·      <7% overshoot overall

·      <2% overshoot for harmonics (if Fourier analysis performed)


·      Intact cannula, no kink, no clot, no bubbles

·      System design



*Note: modern systems are underdamped, but natural frequency is high enough to obviate resonance*



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