Pulmonary function tests, part 2: Using pulse oximetry

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Pulse oximetry can be useful in the detection of hypoxemia in a variety of clinical settings, such as the evaluation of unexplained dyspnea. Arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) can be measured either at rest or during exertion; desaturation of more than 4% during exertion suggests a gas exchange abnormality. Overnight continuous pulse oximetry can be a valuable tool in the evaluation of sleep-disordered breathing, although its sensitivity and specificity are affected by a number of patient- and device-related variables. When interpreting the results of pulse oximetry, remember that readings can be inaccurate as a result of motion artifact, hypotension, or poor perfusion. Also, SaO2 is not a reliable guide to ventilation, and arterial blood gas analysis is necessary to identify hypercapnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-88
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Respiratory Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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