Pulse Oximeter Screening

The use of a Pulse Oximeter is a simple method that can be used to screen a patient for suspected sleep related breathing disorders.  A pulse oximeter is a medical device that indirectly monitors the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood and heart rate.

The pulse oximeter utilizes an electronic processor and a pair of small light emitting diodes (LEDs) that are faced towards the patient’s fingertip.  The absorption of these lights, each at different wavelengths, differs significantly between well oxygenated blood and poorly oxygenated blood. The measurements from these absorptions are then calculated into a percentage.  This percentage tells us how well the hemoglobin, the protein molecules in the blood that carry the oxygen molecules, is saturated.  Acceptable normal ranges for patients without pulmonary pathology are from 95 to 99 percent.

A patient wears the pulse oximeter for a night while sleeping. The data which is collected and stored on the device will show a 4% change in the blood oxygen saturation which lasts for 10 seconds.  After the patient returns the POX to the office, we are then able to download the recorded data into a software that creates a graph-like format which the doctor is able to review with the patient.  This data can assist in determining if there is any concern for the possibility of having a sleep related breathing disorder.