What is pulse oximetry?
Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive method of measuring the oxygen saturation of circulating blood. A sensor is placed on a finger, earlobe, or toe, and a beam of red and infrared light is passed through the body part to reach the sensor. The red light is absorbed more than the infrared light, so the amount of each type of light reaching the sensor is used to calculate the oxygen saturation.
Pulse oximetry can be used to detect hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen levels. It is also useful for monitoring patients who are receiving supplemental oxygen in an intensive care unit or who have respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD. Pulse oximetry is a painless and relatively inexpensive way to check for potential problems with oxygen saturation levels.
Why is pulse oximetry important to healthcare?
Oxygen saturation is a measure of how much oxygen the blood is carrying as a percentage of the maximum amount it could carry. Normal oxygen saturation levels are typically 95% or higher. Pulse oximetry is important for patient care because it helps monitor blood oxygen levels.
This information can be used to adjust oxygen therapy, if necessary, and to monitor for signs of respiratory distress. In addition, pulse oximetry can be used to detect other medical conditions, such as heart disease and anemia. As a result, this simple test can provide valuable information for both patients and healthcare providers.