Electrocardiogram shows reliable heart rates much earlier than pulse oximetry during neonatal resuscitation

Pediatr Int. 2012 Apr;54(2):205-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2011.03506.x. Epub 2011 Dec 22.


Background: The aim of this study was to determine the usefulness of the three-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) during neonatal resuscitation.

Methods: Both pulse oximetry (PO) and ECG were applied immediately after delivery to measure heart rate (HR). We reviewed video recordings of the respective monitors, and checked the time at which each monitor started to display reliable rate values.

Results: In 20 deliveries, ECG showed HR much earlier than PO (median 38 s vs 122 s after delivery). ECG displayed reliable HR throughout resuscitation. We were able to confirm the effectiveness of the initial respiratory support from the elevation in HR.

Conclusions: ECG was a safe and reliable method for showing HR, and was used to determine the initiation and the effectiveness of resuscitation in the delivery room.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Electrocardiography*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Oximetry*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Resuscitation*