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A system for investigating oesophageal photoplethysmographic signals in anaesthetised patients

Kyriacou, P. A., Moye, A. R., Gregg, A. , Choi, D. M., Langford, R. M. & Jones, D. P. (1999). A system for investigating oesophageal photoplethysmographic signals in anaesthetised patients. Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing, 37(5), pp. 639-643. doi: 10.1007/BF02513360


The monitoring of arterial blood oxygen saturation in patients with compromised peripheral perfusion is often difficult, because conventional non-invasive techniques such as pulse oximetry (SpO2) can fail. Poor peripheral circulation commonly occurs after major surgery including cardiopulmonary bypass. The difficulties in these clinical situations might be overcome if the sensor were to monitor a better perfused central part of the body such as the oesophagus. A new oesophageal photoplethysmographic (PPG) probe and an isolated processing system have been developed to investigate the pulsatile signals of anaesthetised adult patients undergoing routine surgery. Measurements were made in the middle third of the oesophagus, 25 cm to 30 cm from the upper incisors. The AC PPG signals are sampled by a data acquisition system connected to a laptop computer. The signals recorded correspond to infrared and red AC PPGs from the middle third oesophagus and the finger. Preliminary results from 20 patients show that good quality AC PPG signals can be measured in the human oesophagus. The ratio of the oesophageal to finger AC PPG amplitudes was calculated for the infrared and red wavelengths for each patient. The mean (+/- standard deviation) of this ratio was 2.9 +/- 2.1 (n = 19) for the infrared wavelength and 3.1 +/- 2.4 (n = 16) for the red wavelength. The red and infrared wavelengths used are appropriate for pulse oximetry and this investigation indicates that the mid-oesophagus may be a suitable site for the reliable monitoring of SpO2 in patients with poor peripheral perfusion.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via
Publisher Keywords: Photoplethysmography (PPG); Pulse oximetry; Oesophagus Non-invasive monitoring; Physiological measurements
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics
R Medicine
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
School of Science & Technology > Engineering > Electrical & Electronic Engineering
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