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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pulse Oximetry

Since I had never heard of a pulse oximeter before I received this assignment, I decided to do some research to find out exactly what this device is and does. I found myself intrigued by this useful invention.

At Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, I found the following information on pulse oximetry:

  • What it does: a pulse oximeter "monitors the percentage of haemoglobin (Hb) which is saturated with oxygen."
  • How it works: the probe portion of the device usually clips onto a fingertip or earlobe where it emits two lights, one red and one infrared. The computerized monitor to which the probe is linked measures the rate at which the light is absorbed by the blood. "By calculating the absorption at the two wavelengths the processor can compute the proportion of haemoglobin which is oxygenated."
  • Users: asthmatics, pilots, athletes often use this device. They are particularly useful "for monitoring oxygenation and pulse rates throughout anaesthesia. They are also widely used during the recovery phase."
Are you familiar with this device?