Pulse oximetry: use, procedure, results


Pulse oximetry is a way to measure oxygen levels in your blood, which is an important indicator of your overall health. The test is non-invasive and uses a probe or sensor that is placed on the forehead, earlobe, fingertip, or bridge of the nose to measure the level of oxygen in the blood. It is often used in emergency departments or intensive care units, although it can also be used in the offices of some healthcare providers.

The purpose of the test

Pulse oximetry is a method of measuring oxygen saturation or the percentage of hemoglobin saturated with oxygen in arterial blood. It can be a useful tool in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung conditions to check your lung function or how well your lungs are working.

For COPD, your healthcare provider can use pulse oximetry to determine if and how much supplemental oxygen is needed. If your condition suddenly worsens, your doctor may use pulse oximetry to determine if you should be hospitalized. A study of COPD patients using pulse oximeters found that these devices were very effective in predicting a sudden flare-up of COPD symptoms, known as flare-ups.

There are many other conditions and situations in which pulse oximetry provides useful information. For example, an anesthesiologist can use pulse oximetry to monitor blood oxygen levels during or after sedation during surgery. Also, when evaluating sleep apnea, pulse oximetry can detect when a person stops breathing.

Pulse oximeters are widely used in hospitals, clinics, health centers, and at home. They are generally accurate and give an accurate reading of the oxygen saturation level. This can be a valuable tool, especially in emergency situations.

During the exam

Your blood contains hemoglobin , which carries oxygen molecules from your lungs to where they are needed in your body. Pulse oximetry measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood that carries and does not carry oxygen.

Because it is a simple procedure (almost as easy as measuring blood pressure), pulse oximetry can be performed almost anywhere. It is quite quick and painless:

  1. The sensor is gently pressed against a finger or other part of the body to measure the level of oxygen saturation.
  2. The device then uses light of a specific wavelength to measure the oxygen saturation of the hemoglobin .

Hemoglobin, which carries oxygen, absorbs this light differently than hemoglobin, which does not carry oxygen, and the data collected by the sensor will make a difference.

Portable monitors

You can purchase a portable pulse oximetry monitor for your wrist that will monitor your blood oxygen levels throughout the day and potentially alert your doctor or caregivers when the levels are too low. You can also buy finger clamps that will transfer the blood oxygenation data to your smartphone.

interpretation of results

Normal oxygen saturation levels are between 95% and 100%. Oxygen saturation levels in COPD and other conditions such as asthma , lung cancer , heart failure , and pneumonia can be lower .

Pulse oximetry should not replace, but rather complement, the use of spirometry in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD.

Pulse oximetry monitors are also useful for monitoring supplemental oxygen therapy to determine whether to increase or decrease your levels based on your needs .

Never reduce oxygen levels unless specifically instructed to do so by your doctor.

Although pulse oximetry is widely used in clinical and home settings, it should never replace arterial blood gas analysis (which is considered the gold standard for measuring blood oxygen) and / or medical advice from your healthcare professional. Health. It should only be used as a screening tool for suspected low blood oxygen levels.

Get the word of drug information

Pulse oximetry is a painless way to accurately measure oxygen saturation in the blood and is an excellent tool for determining lung function, disease progression, and the effectiveness of certain treatments.

However, never rely on a pulse oximeter to determine how you should feel. If your oxygen saturation is normal, but you have severe shortness of breath and / or are experiencing other distressing symptoms, seek emergency medical attention and inform your doctor as soon as possible.

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