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Pulse oximetry in the oesophagus

Kyriacou, P. A. (2005). Pulse oximetry in the oesophagus. Physiological Measurement, 27(1), R1-R35. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/27/1/r01


Pulse oximetry has been one of the most significant technological advances in clinical monitoring in the last two decades. Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive photometric technique that provides information about the arterial blood oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) and heart rate, and has widespread clinical applications. When peripheral perfusion is poor, as in states of hypovolaemia, hypothermia and vasoconstriction, oxygenation readings become unreliable or cease. The problem arises because conventional pulse oximetry sensors must be attached to the most peripheral parts of the body, such as finger, ear or toe, where pulsatile flow is most easily compromised. Since central blood flow may be preferentially preserved, this review explores a new alternative site, the oesophagus, for monitoring blood oxygen saturation by pulse oximetry. This review article presents the basic physics, technology and applications of pulse oximetry including photoplethysmography. The limitations of this technique are also discussed leading to the proposed development of the oesophageal pulse oximeter. In the majority, the report will be focused on the description of a new oesophageal photoplethysmographic/SpO(2) probe, which was developed to investigate the suitability of the oesophagus as an alternative monitoring site for the continuous measurement of SpO(2) in cases of poor peripheral circulation. The article concludes with a review of reported clinical investigations of the oesophageal pulse oximeter.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article accepted for publication in 'Physiological Measurement'. The publisher is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at
Publisher Keywords: pulse oximetry; photoplethysmography; perfusion; oesophagus
Subjects: R Medicine
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of CRO 2006 P.A. KYRIACOU, (2006) Pulse Oximetry in the oesophagus, Physiological Measurement, 27, R1-R35.pdf]
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