Pulse oximetry. Gold standard or false sense of security?

Med J Aust. 1994 May 16;160(10):638-44.


Objective: To provide a concise review of the history, technology, theory, limitations and outcomes of pulse oximetry.

Data sources and selection: Articles published in major medical journals since 1985 critically appraising pulse oximetry were reviewed, as were numerous historical papers.

Result: The pulse oximeter is an imperfect device, with numerous potential limitations.

Conclusion: The pulse oximeter is reasonably accurate under most conditions. However, its reliability diminishes as the clinical situation deviates from the norm, possibly when accuracy is most needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Oximetry*