Factors influencing pulse oximetry as compared to functional arterial saturation in multi-ethnic Singapore

Singapore Med J. 1993 Oct;34(5):385-7.


Noninvasive oximetry provides continuous monitoring of arterial oxygen saturation and hence, early detection of hypoxia. This has proved to be a useful adjunct to patients' safety, and is considered indispensable in certain settings. However, errors may be present in the pulse oximeter estimation (SpO2) of arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2), which may be due to various parameters. We have studied a multi-ethnic population where the skin pigmentation is different, and also under different conditions comparing SpO2 with SaO2. Our results showed that SpO2 estimation of SaO2 amongst the three racial groups (Chinese, Malays, and Indians) varied significantly (ANOVA, p < 0.05). The over-estimation was more pronounced by hypoxic conditions and jaundice. Haemoglobin and systolic blood pressure did not affect the difference between SpO2 and SaO2.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • China / ethnology
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / blood
  • India / ethnology
  • Malaysia / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Oximetry* / methods
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Singapore
  • Skin Pigmentation / physiology


  • Bilirubin
  • Oxygen