Pulse Oximetry

Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive method allowing the monitoring of the saturation of a patient's hemoglobin.

A sensor is placed on a thin part of the patient's body, usually a fingertip or earlobe, or in the case of an infant, across a foot. Light of two different wavelengths is passed through the patient to a photodetector. The changing absorbance at each of the wavelengths is measured, allowing determination of the absorbances due to the pulsing arterial blood alone, excluding venous blood, skin, bone, muscle, fat, and (in most cases) nail polish. With NIRS it is possible to measure both oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin on a peripheral scale (possible on both brain and muscle).

Reflectance pulse oximetry may be used as an alternative to transmissive pulse oximetery described above. This method does not require a thin section of the patient's body and is therefore well suited to more universal application such as the feet, forehead and chest, but it also has some limitations. Vasodilation and pooling of venous blood in the head due to compromised venous return to the heart, as occurs with congenital cyanotic heart disease patients, or in patients in the Trendelenburg position, can cause a combination of arterial and venous pulsations in the forehead region and lead to spurious SpO2 (Saturation of peripheral oxygen) results.

Read more about Pulse OximetryHistory, Function, Indication

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