Oxygen saturation as a screening test for critical congenital heart disease: a preliminary study

Pediatr Cardiol. Jul-Aug 2002;23(4):403-9. doi: 10.1007/s00246-002-1482-8.


The aim of this study was to assess the utility of arm and leg oxygen saturation as a candidate screening test for the early detection of ductal-dependent left heart obstructive disease. We measured arm and leg oxygen saturation in 2876 newborns admitted to well baby nurseries and 32 newborns with congenital heart disease. Fifty-seven newborns in the well baby nurseries (0.02%) had an abnormal test (leg saturation less than 92% in room air or 7% lower saturation in the leg than in the arm). Four of the 57 had critical congenital heart disease, including 1 with coarctation of the aorta. Of the 32 newborns with congenital heart disease, 11/13 (85%) with left heart obstructive disease had abnormal oxygen saturation tests, as did 15/19 (79%) with other forms of congenital heart disease. Pulse oximetry deserves further study as a screening test for critical congenital heart disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Birth Weight / physiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Extremities / blood supply
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant Welfare
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Oximetry
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Prevalence
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Suburban Health
  • Urban Health


  • Oxygen