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Saturday, February 20, 2021

FDA issues alert on the 'limitations' of pulse oximeters

Pulse oximeters do have shortcomings. Some are quite insensitive. They may be affected by nail polish and by skin color. They may be prone to motion and low blood pressure artifacts leading to inaccurate readings. I do not routinely recommend them even for those with chronic lung conditions because they tend to cause more anxiety than assistance and they do not necessarily beget a change in therapy. The gold standard is the direct measurement of the dissolved oxygen content in your arterial blood (requires a needle stick). A common misconception is that shortness of breath is primarily due to low oxygen levels. In many instances of shortness of breath, however, the oxygen levels are just fine. If you are going to use such devices. Get a reliable one with a high degree of specificity and sensitivity. Test after you have been still/resting for at least two minutes. Reference: J Clin Anesth. 2012 Aug;24(5):385-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2011.10.012. Epub 2012 May 22. Performance of three new-generation pulse oximeters during motion and low perfusion in volunteers. Shah N1, Ragaswamy HB, Govindugari K, Estanol L.
from Rajesh Harrykissoon, MD

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