On average, arterial oxygen saturation measured by pulse oximetry (SpO2) is higher in hypoxemia than the true oxygen saturation measured invasively (SaO2), thereby increasing the risk of occult hypoxemia. In the current article, measurements of SpO2 on 17 cyanotic newborns were performed by means of a Nellcor pulse oximeter (POx), based on light with two wavelengths in the red and infrared regions (660 and 900 nm), and by means of a novel POx, based on two wavelengths in the infrared region (761 and 820 nm). The SpO2 readings from the two POxs showed higher values than the invasive SaO2 readings, and the disparity increased with decreasing SaO2. SpO2 measured using the two infrared wavelengths showed better correlation with SaO2 than SpO2 measured using the red and infrared wavelengths. After appropriate calibration, the standard deviation of the individual SpO2−SaO2 differences for the two-infrared POx was smaller (3.6%) than that for the red and infrared POx (6.5%, p < 0.05). The overestimation of SpO2 readings in hypoxemia was explained by the increase in hypoxemia of the optical pathlengths-ratio between the two wavelengths. The two-infrared POx can reduce the overestimation of SpO2 measurement in hypoxemia and the consequent risk of occult hypoxemia, owing to its smaller increase in pathlengths-ratio in hypoxemia.
- arterial blood oxygen saturation
- near infrared
- occult hypoxemia
- pulse oximetry