Medical question: pulse ox? : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

As I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong) that small gray clip that goes on the end of a patient's finger tip not only measures their pulse, but the level of oxygen in their blood as well. (I think Carter also had a small device with a red light attached to his forehead during his surgery in "AitF" and I was told that was the same kind of device.) My question is, exactly how is pulse ox measured by the device , since it doesn't actually pierce the skin to test the blood? Is it possible to be read through the skin, and if so, how? Or am I off base about just what the device does?

-- Jennifer M. (, March 05, 2001


Don't take my word on this!!! But I beleive the pulse ox device that is worn on the tips of your finger could count a person's pulse automatically by counting the beats of the blood running through your finger. Doing this manually, a nurse would be needed to take a person's pulse by putting two fingers on your wrists and count the number of beats which would be the person's pulse.

-- abigail (, March 05, 2001.

I'm sure Mike can provide more detail, but there's a pretty good explanation of pulse oximetry here:

-- Beth (, March 05, 2001.

I thought the finger thing was a blood pressure moniter.

:) Jenna

-- Jenna (, March 05, 2001.

I talked about this a bit in the relevant FAQ section, but basically, the pulse oximeter is a little clip thing that attaches to the finger (or occasionally an earlobe) that sends a beam of light through the skin to measure the concentration of oxygen in the blood. This works because the blood and tissue will absorb more or less light depending on how much oxygen is in it; you measure this absorbance, and translate it into a reading of how well the patient is oxygenating.

-- Mike Sugimoto (, March 05, 2001.

Gee, I thought is was related to a musk ox! / / / 

-- Zorbo (, March 07, 2001.

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