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Does Ambient Light Affect the Accuracy of Pulse Oximetry?

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OBJECTIVE: Determine whether ambient light affects the accuracy of pulse oximetry readings. DESIGN: Prospective, repeated-measures study. SETTING: A photographic darkroom. SUBJECTS: Forty-five faculty and students at a university, none of whom had pale skin, dark skin, or evidence of cardiopulmonary disease. Any nail polish was removed. METHODS: Five light sources were individually tested: incandescent, quartz-halogen, infrared, fluorescent, and bilirubin light. A pulse oximetry probe was placed on the subject's finger, and the finger and probe were placed sideways under each light source, on a predetermined mark. RESULTS: The greatest difference in pulse oximetry reading between any of the light sources was 0.5%. Repeated-measures analysis of variance yielded a p value of 0.204. CONCLUSIONS: Ambient light has no statistically significant effect on pulse oximetry readings. Even had the differences been statistically significant, the magnitude of the differences was small and thus clinically unimportant.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Cardiorespiratory Sciences, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, 750 East Adams Street, Syracuse NY 13210;, Email: fluckr@mail.upstate.edu 2: Department of Cardiorespiratory Sciences, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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