A pulse oximeter is a small, cup-like device that is attached to a body part, especially the finger. It is mostly used in critical care settings like hospitals and emergency rooms. Some specialists like pulmonologists may use this device in the office to carry out their regular checks. A pulse oximeter is used for a medical process known as medical oximetry.
Pulse oximetry is painless and non-invasive tests that measure a patient’s oxygen levels or oxygen saturation levels in the blood. It can detect the smallest changes in how efficiently oxygen is carried to the furthest extremities from the heart, such as the arms and legs.
Uses of Pulse Oximetry
The main use of pulse oximetry is to check how well a patient’s heart is pumping oxygen throughout the body. It is mostly used to monitor the health of individuals with health conditions that affect blood oxygen levels, especially when they are admitted to the hospital. These conditions include:
- Lung cancer
- Congenital heart defects
- Heart attack or heart failure
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
This device can be used to:
- Evaluate whether a patient needs breathing help
- Assess how well the body is responding to a new lung medication
- Evaluate the effectiveness of a ventilator
- Monitor oxygen levels during and after a surgical procedure that requires sedation
- Assess a patient’s ability to endure intense physical activities
- Evaluate whether a patient momentarily stops breathing while sleeping – especially for people with sleep apnea
- Determine the effectiveness of supplemental oxygen therapy is especially for new treatments
How does this Device work?
When doing pulse oximetry, doctors place a small clamp-like device on the earlobe, toe, or finger. Small beams of light pass through the blood in the area where the pulse oximeter is placed and measures oxygen levels. It achieves this by measuring any changes in light absorption in oxygenated or deoxygenated blood. A fingertip pulse oximeter is able to tell a patient’s oxygen saturation levels along with the heart rate.
Understanding Pulse Oximetry Readings
The pulse oximeter is a fairly accurate device. This is especially true if the doctor uses high-quality equipment such as the LOOKEE® Premium Fingertip Pulse Oximeter. Often, this device shows a 2% difference either way of what it is truly is. For instance, if the reason is 78%, the true oxygen saturation level may be anywhere from 76-80%. However, there are several factors that determine the accuracy of the results, including the quality of the expertise of the examiner, temperature, quality of the waveform, and more.
Normally, over 89% of your blood should carry oxygen at all times. This is typically the oxygen saturation level required to keep your body and cells healthy. If your blood saturation is temporarily below this, it cannot cause any damage. Nonetheless, consistent or repeat instances of lowered oxygen saturation may be detrimental.
A pulse oximeter is one of the most important devices in the medical world. It enables quick, non-invasive, and painless tests that help medical professionals know their patients’ oxygen saturation levels so that they can know the most appropriate treatments in different situations.