Understanding Pulse Oximetry
Pulse oximeters provide physicians with a simple, but highly effective tool for monitoring oxygen levels in the blood, allowing them to screen for several serious conditions and to monitor patients during surgery. Non-invasive and reliable, pulse oximetry devices are widely used in medical facilities around the world, and the yearly market for these devices is around $1 billion.
Medical facilities considering ordering pulse oximetry devices should research the equipment they are considering purchasing to ensure they get the best quality devices. Physicians aren’t the only ones buying these devices. Pulse oximeters are also sold to patients who are monitoring certain conditions at home. These consumers should also learn more about how these devices operate to make a better informed decision.
A Brief History of Pulse Oximetry
Pulse oximetry devices have their roots in 1930s Germany, where Karl Matthes invented the first O2 saturation meter to gauge oxygenation. In the 1940s, Glenn Allan Millikan developed the original oximeter and continually worked to better the invention. By the 1960s, large pulse oximeters were being sold by Hewlett-Packard, mainly to big facilities and labs, because of the high cost and large size of the early oximeter devices.
Pulse oximetry was pioneered in Japan in 1972 by a pair of bioengineers. The device was tested on surgical patients and, in time, pulse oximetry became widespread in hospitals as it provided a reliable, non-invasive method of monitoring blood levels in patients under anesthesia. Since the introduction of pulse oximetry to surgical settings, anesthesia has become much safer, as physicians have a better means of monitoring oxygenation to unconscious patients.
How Pulse Oximetry Devices Work
Pulse oximetry devices help determine how well blood is being transported to the areas of the body furthest from the heart, such as the toes or fingers or ear lobes. A pulse oximeter works by sending a beam of red and infrared light all the way through a pulsating capillary bed. The device determines the amount of oxygen saturation of the blood based on the ratio of red to infrared light. Oxygenated blood is a brighter shade of red than deoxygenated blood, which appears as a blue or purple color. The device evaluates the intensity of the shades of red and makes a determination concerning how oxygenated the blood is, displaying that figure on an electronic screen.
How Pulse Oximetry Devices Are Used
The method for using a pulse oximeter is actually very simple. When doctors use pulse oximetry devices, they attach a clip to the patient’s earlobe, finger, or toe. In some cases, a probe with sticky adhesive may be applied to the patient’s finger or forehead.
During the test, the probe will stay attached to the area it was applied to. When the test is over, physicians or nurses will remove the probe from the patient’s body.
What Pulse Oximeters Test For
Pulse oximeters are used in a variety of scenarios when it becomes necessary to monitor oxygen levels in patients’ blood. Some situations where these devices are commonly used include:
In addition to these uses, pulse oximetry devices are commonly used to monitor patients with health conditions that impact blood oxygen levels. These conditions include:
Risks Associated with Pulse Oximetry
Pulse Oximetry is non-invasive and incredibly safe. The worst outcomes patients face when these devices are used is some minor skin irritation or an incorrect reading if the probe falls off the part of the body it is attached to. Some factors that might contribute to incorrect readings include a weak pulse, cardia arrhythmia, or dyes used in other diagnostic tests.
Recent Developments in Pulse Oximetry
In recent years, physicians have proposed new uses for pulse oximetry. For example, in 2011, a panel of experts recommended using pulse oximetry devices to screen newborns for critical congenital heart disease. Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) is a heart defect that leads to low levels of oxygen in the blood. If it isn’t detected early, this problem can lead to serious complications requiring emergency care and can cause long-term developmental issues. About 7,200 children are born each year with this heart defect , according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The workgroup recommending pulse oximetry for screening cited two studies of nearly 60,000 subjects that found pulse oximetry was a highly effective screening tool for CCHD, and reduced the number of false positive tests. Pulse oximetry has been added to the recommended uniform screening panel, and a quickly growing number of medical facilities are using it to screen newborns.
Another recent application discovered for pulse oximetry is the use of high resolution pulse oximetry for in-home testing of sleep apnea and inpatient testing for patients who cannot undergo polysomnography.
Selecting Quality Pulse Oximeters
Medical facilities using pulse oximetry devices need the most reliable, high quality devices on the market. They also need a wide range of pulse oximetry devices to choose from, as several specializations of pulse oximetry devices are available, including tabletop and handheld pulse oximeters, among others.
Hospitals, clinics and other facilities in need of these devices should look no further than Medical Device Depot . Founded by health care professionals who understand the need for knowledgeable and helpful customer service and support in the medical device industry, Medical Device Depot provides health care professionals with state-of-the-art medical equipment sold by trained and experienced employees who can answer questions important to assisting health care professionals in choosing the proper equipment for their practices.Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/cchd-facts.html