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Pulse Oximetry(Spo2 Sensor,Spo2 Probe)
Nov 30, 2016

Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive method for monitoring a person's oxygen saturation (SO2). Its reading of SpO2 (peripheral oxygen saturation) is not always identical to the reading of SaO2 (arterial oxygen saturation) from arterial blood gas analysis, but the two are correlated well enough that the safe, convenient, noninvasive, inexpensive pulse oximetry method is valuable for measuring oxygen saturation in clinical use.

In its most common (transmissive) application mode, a sensor device 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. The device passes two wavelengths of light through the body part to a photodetector. It measures the changing absorbance at each of the wavelengths, allowing it to determine the absorbances due to the pulsing arterial blood alone, excluding venous blood, skin, bone, muscle, fat, and (in most cases) nail polish.

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 person's body and is therefore well suited to a 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 theTrendelenburg position, can cause a combination of arterial and venous pulsations in the forehead region and lead to spurious SpO2 results.


A blood-oxygen monitor displays the percentage of blood that is loaded with oxygen. More specifically, it measures what percentage of hemoglobin, the protein in blood that carries oxygen, is loaded. Acceptable normal ranges for patients without pulmonary pathology are from 95 to 99 percent. For a patient breathing room air at or near sea level, an estimate of arterial pO2 can be made from the blood-oxygen monitor "saturation of peripheral oxygen" (SpO2) reading.

A typical pulse oximeter utilizes an electronic processor and a pair of small light-emitting diodes (LEDs) facing a photodiode through a translucent part of the patient's body, usually a fingertip or an earlobe. One LED is red, with wavelength of 660 nm, and the other isinfrared with a wavelength of 940 nm. Absorption of light at these wavelengths differs significantly between blood loaded with oxygen and blood lacking oxygen. Oxygenated hemoglobin absorbs more infrared light and allows more red light to pass through. Deoxygenated hemoglobin allows more infrared light to pass through and absorbs more red light. The LEDs sequence through their cycle of one on, then the other, then both off about thirty times per second which allows the photodiode to respond to the red and infrared 

light separately and also adjust for the ambient light baseline.[spo2 sensor] The amount of light that is transmitted (in other words, that is not absorbed) is measured, and separate normalized signals are produced for each wavelength. These signals fluctuate in time because the amount of arterial blood that is present increases (literally pulses) with each heartbeat. By subtracting the minimum transmitted light from the peak transmitted light in each wavelength, the effects of other tissues is corrected for.[spo2 probe] The ratio of the red light measurement to the infrared light measurement is then calculated by the processor (which represents the ratio of oxygenated hemoglobin to deoxygenated hemoglobin), and this ratio is then converted to SpO2 by the processor via a lookup table[40] based on the Beer–Lambert law


A pulse oximeter is a medical device that indirectly monitors the oxygen saturation of a patient's blood (as opposed to measuring oxygen saturation directly through a blood sample) and changes in blood volume in the skin, producing a photoplethysmogram. The pulse oximeter may be incorporated into a multiparameter patient monitor. Most monitors also display the pulse rate. Portable, battery-operated pulse oximeters are also available for transport or home blood-oxygen monitoring.


Pulse oximetry is particularly convenient for noninvasive continuous measurement of blood oxygen saturation. In contrast, blood gas levels must otherwise be determined in a laboratory on a drawn blood sample. Pulse oximetry is useful in any setting where a patient's oxygenation is unstable, including intensive care, operating, recovery, emergency and hospital ward settings, pilots in unpressurized aircraft, for assessment of any patient's oxygenation, and determining the effectiveness of or need for supplemental oxygen. Although a pulse oximeter is used to monitor oxygenation, it cannot determine the metabolism of oxygen, or the amount of oxygen being used by a patient. For this purpose, it is necessary to also measure carbon dioxide(CO2) levels. It is possible that it can also be used to detect abnormalities in ventilation. However, the use of a pulse oximeter to detect hypoventilation is impaired with the use of supplemental oxygen, as it is only when patients breathe room air that abnormalities in respiratory function can be detected reliably with its use. Therefore, the routine administration of supplemental oxygen may be unwarranted if the patient is able to maintain adequate oxygenation in room air, since it can result in hypoventilation going undetected.

Because of their simplicity of use and the ability to provide continuous and immediate oxygen saturation values, pulse oximeters are of critical importance in emergency medicine and are also very useful for patients with respiratory or cardiac problems, especially COPD, or for diagnosis of some sleep disorders such as apnea and hypopnea.[Blood Oxygen Sensor] Portable battery-operated pulse oximeters are useful for pilots operating in a non-pressurized aircraft above 10,000 feet (12,500 feet in the U.S.)[Oxygen Saturation sensor] where supplemental oxygen is required. Portable pulse oximeters are also useful for mountain climbers and athletes whose oxygen levels may decrease at high altitudes or with exercise. Some portable pulse oximeters employ software that charts a patient's blood oxygen and pulse, serving as a reminder to check blood oxygen levels.


Pulse oximetry measures solely hemoglobin saturation, not ventilation and is not a complete measure of respiratory sufficiency. It is not a substitute for blood gases checked in a laboratory, because it gives no indication of base deficit, carbon dioxide levels, blood pH, or bicarbonate (HCO3−) concentration. The metabolism of oxygen can be readily measured by monitoring expired CO2, but saturation figures give no information about blood oxygen content. Most of the oxygen in the blood is carried by hemoglobin; in severe anemia, the blood will carry less total oxygen, despite the hemoglobin being 100% saturated.

Erroneously low readings may be caused by hypoperfusion of the extremity being used for monitoring (often due to a limb being cold, or from vasoconstriction secondary to the use ofvasopressor agents); incorrect sensor application; highly calloused skin; or movement (such as shivering), especially during hypoperfusion. To ensure accuracy, the sensor should return a steady pulse and/or pulse waveform. Pulse oximetry technologies differ in their abilities to provide accurate data during conditions of motion and low perfusion.

Pulse oximetry also is not a complete measure of circulatory sufficiency. If there is insufficient bloodflow or insufficient hemoglobin in the blood (anemia), tissues can suffer hypoxiadespite high oxygen saturation in the blood that does arrive. In 2008, a pulse oximeter that can also measure hemoglobin levels in addition to oxygen saturation was introduced by Masimo. In addition to the standard two wavelengths of light, the devices use multiple additional wavelengths of light to quantify hemoglobin.

Since pulse oximetry only measures the percentage of bound hemoglobin, a falsely high or falsely low reading will occur when hemoglobin binds to something other than oxygen:

·Hemoglobin has a higher affinity to carbon monoxide than oxygen, and a high reading may occur despite the patient actually being hypoxemic. In cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, this inaccuracy may delay the recognition of hypoxia (low cellular oxygen level).

·Cyanide poisoning gives a high reading, because it reduces oxygen extraction from arterial blood. In this case, the reading is not false, as arterial blood oxygen is indeed high in early cyanide poisoning.

·Methemoglobinemia characteristically causes pulse oximetry readings in the mid-80s.

A noninvasive method that allows continuous measurement of the dyshemoglobins is the pulse CO-oximeter, which was invented in 2005 by Masimo. It provides clinicians a way to measure the dyshemoglobins carboxyhemoglobin and methemoglobin along with total hemoglobin.

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