Pulse Oximetry

Pulse oximetry is a diagnostic procedure that is used for checking the arterial oxygen saturation of hemoglobin. A pulse oximeter is a medical device that is often used in medical settings, especially for monitoring the pulse rate and amount of oxygen carried by the hemoglobin. How does pulse oximetry work and what do pulse oximetry readings signify? Scroll down so as to understand how does a pulse oximeter work along with the significance of this diagnostic procedure.
Why is Pulse Oximetry Recommended?
Oxygen is an element that is vital for one’s survival. As we breathe in air, the air travels into the lungs through bronchi, and the vital respiratory process of exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place within the microscopic alveolar sacs located in lungs. Oxygen from the inhaled air gets bound to hemoglobin. The heart, which is the most vital organ of the circulatory system, carries the oxygenated blood throughout the body. If the respiratory organs are unable to work, and the oxygen-replenished blood is unable to reach the various parts of the body, then a variety of vital bodily processes would surely get affected. If the levels of life-giving oxygen fall down to dangerously low levels, one may suffer from hypoxemia. Anxiety, disorientation, bluish discoloration of skin, palpitations or respiratory distress are some of the symptoms that may be caused due to low levels of oxygen in arterial blood. While blood tests can provide an insight into the hemoglobin levels, doctors may also conduct a pulse oximetry in order to ascertain the arterial oxygen saturation levels.
What do Pulse Oximetry Readings Signify?
Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive procedure that can help the doctors in determining the amount of oxygen that is actually carried by the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Oxygen saturation values are determined by checking the ratio of quantity of hemoglobin that is carrying oxygen and the total amount of hemoglobin in one’s blood. Under normal circumstances, pulse oximetry values must lie between 95-99%. If the pulse oximetry results indicate blood oxygen saturation levels below 90%, a life-threatening situation can arise. In such cases, patient would be given supplemental oxygen so as to correct the imbalance in the blood oxygen levels. Oxygen saturation levels can be adversely affected due to ailments associated with the lungs or the heart. High altitudes, injury or carbon monoxide poisoning could also be responsible for low blood oxygen saturation. Under such circumstances, pulse oximetry levels would be lower than the normal range.