Pulse oximetry. Uses and abuses

Chest. 1990 Nov;98(5):1244-50. doi: 10.1378/chest.98.5.1244.


Pulse oximetry has made a significant contribution to noninvasive monitoring in a wide variety of clinical situations. It allows for continuous reliable measurements of oxygen saturation while avoiding the discomfort and risks of arterial puncture. As the extent of hypoxic episodes during various procedures and clinical settings is better appreciated, the role of continuous noninvasive monitoring will undoubtedly expand. An understanding of the principles and technology of pulse oximetry will allow physicians to obtain maximal clinical benefit from its use.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / blood
  • Coloring Agents
  • Critical Care
  • Hemoglobins, Abnormal / analysis
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Lighting
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Oximetry* / history
  • Oximetry* / statistics & numerical data
  • Pulsatile Flow


  • Coloring Agents
  • Hemoglobins, Abnormal