Measurement of carboxyhemoglobin and methemoglobin by pulse oximetry: a human volunteer study

Anesthesiology. 2006 Nov;105(5):892-7. doi: 10.1097/00000542-200611000-00008.


Background: A new eight-wavelength pulse oximeter is designed to measure methemoglobin and carboxyhemoglobin, in addition to the usual measurements of hemoglobin oxygen saturation and pulse rate. This study examines this device's ability to measure dyshemoglobins in human volunteers in whom controlled levels of methemoglobin and carboxyhemoglobin are induced.

Methods: Ten volunteers breathed 500 ppm carbon monoxide until their carboxyhemoglobin levels reached 15%, and 10 different volunteers received intravenous sodium nitrite, 300 mg, to induce methemoglobin. All were instrumented with arterial cannulas and six Masimo Rad-57 (Masimo Inc., Irvine, CA) pulse oximeter sensors. Arterial blood was analyzed by three laboratory CO-oximeters, and the resulting carboxyhemoglobin and methemoglobin measurements were compared with the corresponding pulse oximeter readings.

Results: The Rad-57 measured carboxyhemoglobin with an uncertainty of +/-2% within the range of 0-15%, and it measured methemoglobin with an uncertainty of 0.5% within the range of 0-12%.

Conclusion: The Masimo Rad-57 is the first commercially available pulse oximeter that can measure methemoglobin and carboxyhemoglobin, and it therefore represents an expansion of our oxygenation monitoring capability.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / instrumentation
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / statistics & numerical data
  • Carboxyhemoglobin / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Methemoglobin / analysis*
  • Methemoglobinemia / blood
  • Methemoglobinemia / diagnosis
  • Oximetry / instrumentation
  • Oximetry / methods*
  • Oximetry / statistics & numerical data


  • Methemoglobin
  • Carboxyhemoglobin