Supplemental oxygen is a tried-and-true treatment for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for a variety of reasons. Classic studies show the efficacy of using supplemental oxygen as close to 24 hours per day as feasible in COPD patients with resting hypoxemia. However, the significance of supplementary oxygen in various therapeutic scenarios for these individuals (for example, minor resting hypoxia, desaturation with activity alone, or nocturnal desaturation) is less obvious. The current research examines the evidence supporting the use of supplemental oxygen in these varied situations for individuals with COPD. The Long-term Oxygen Treatment Trial, a randomized controlled trial that looked at the effect of supplementary oxygen in patients with mild resting hypoxia and/or exertional desaturation, recently found no benefit in this context based on a composite outcome of all-cause hospitalization and death. Nonetheless, others urge for individual trials of supplementary oxygen in such individuals, with treatment decisions based on subjective benefit. 

Data on the use of supplementary oxygen for such patients in other circumstances are very limited, and additional research is certainly needed for this regularly encountered clinical problem.