Parts of a Pulse Oximeter

Discover the essential components of a pulse oximeter and how they monitor oxygen saturation in the blood efficiently.

A pulse oximeter is an essential tool in the medical sector used to measure pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation level in one’s blood. You might have seen it across the hospital or among the practitioners because it’s regularly used and easy to identify. Whether you greatly envy medicine or are on the journey to become a professional, you might require learning the parts of a pulse oximeter.

A pulse oximeter is an undeniable lifesaver in the health sector. You can also purchase a pulse oximeter for domestic use on yourself or your family. This blog will break down the parts of a pulse oximeter alongside other helpful details you didn’t know you needed.

When Can a Pulse Oximeter Be Used?

This device can be applied to many health issues, especially those relating to the respiratory system, like COVID-19, congenital heart disease, anemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, lung cancer, or pneumonia.

Some treatment situations that may call for a pulse oximeter include post-sedation surgical monitoring, monitoring oxygen therapy, or indication for respiratory assistance. Doctors use the gadget to measure a ventilator’s effectiveness and assess a patient’s treatment response for the above complications.

Power Source

A standard pulse oximeter has a power source that stores the device’s ‘fuel.’ It can be a battery chamber or rechargeable port. The former is usually an area where batteries designed for pulse oximeters are stored to facilitate their functionality for a certain period.

Rechargeable pulse oximeters are connected to a power source until the battery gets full and used till they indicate a low charge. The life of the charge or battery depends on how frequently the device is used and other factors like quality.

Sensor (photodetector)

The photodetector is the feature that detects changes in the device while it’s in use using light-emitting diodes and photodiodes. It observes reflection and changes in light absorption in the patient’s fingers to determine the blood oxygen saturation level and pulse rate.

The pulse oximeter should be well maintained and of good quality for the detectors to deliver accurate outcomes.

Probe Clip

This feature connects to the patient’s earlobe, finger, or any other body part that the specialist chooses to work with. It exists in different designs to suit various body parts and medical conditions.

Earlobe clips are generally smaller, while the finger ones are medium-sized and come with a spring load technology. When acquiring a pulse oximeter, getting one with a comfortable and stable probe clip is more effective.

Screen (display)

Another central part of a pulse oximeter is the screen, where readings and other details are displayed in real time. The oxygen saturation level and pulse rate are recorded in large numeric beats per minute (bpm).

Modern pulse oximeters boast coloured displays to enhance visibility in different lighting situations. Other details like battery strength, alarms, user interface controls, and many others depending on the type of pulse oximeter are displayed here.

Power Button

This part is available in all pulse oximeter designs, allowing users to turn the device on for use and off after use. The button helps to optimize energy usage and conserve battery life when the device is not in use.

Some pulse oximeters use the power button as the emergency feature when the patient probably complains of sudden pain, discomfort, or other reactions. It can also incorporate features like alarm or volume controls to improve the gadget’s functionality.

Alarm and Speaker

An alarm system in a pulse oximeter seeks to alert health professionals about certain situations when using the device. For instance, it may beep when the pulse rate or oxygen saturation level falls below the desired ranges.

On the other hand, speakers on these gadgets offer audio responses when the device is in use, like with alarms or other alerts. It’s integrated with additional controls for uniformed services.

Practicality of a Pulse Oximeter

Pulse oximeters may sometimes deliver absurd results due to various situations like:

  • Consuming tobacco soon before or during pulse rate or blood saturation test.
  • Deformed fingers, earlobes, or other body parts where a pulse oximeter is used may also give inaccurate results.
  • Long and dark (painted) fingernails may hinder the functionality of this device. Artificial nails are strongly discouraged before a pulse rate or blood saturation test.
  • A poorly fixed pulse oximeter often delivers wrong readings. You must ensure the gadget is stable on the patient and feels comfortable.

Other scenarios that may reduce the accuracy of this device include when the battery is extremely low, poor quality pulse oximeters, intensely cold weather, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Excess sunlight or bright lights can also mess with the final readings of this gadget. Having learned these factors, you are better positioned to tackle each of them to ensure the maximum effectiveness of a pulse oximeter.