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Fluorescent light interferes with pulse oximetry


Arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) values displayed on the pulse oximeter dropped dramatically in 3 children undergoing neurosurgical procedures when a hand-held fluorescent light was used to observe the patients. Pulse rates were unchanged on both the electrocardiograph and pulse oximeter. Electromagnetic interference was excluded as the cause of desaturation. A great deal of energy was emitted by the hand-held light in the 660-nm region, which is one of the wavelengths used by the oximeter. False readings of pulse rate and SaO2 values caused by ambient light could be avoided if oximeter probes were manufactured of black opaque material that does not transmit light or enclosed in an opaque plastic housing.

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Amar, D., Neidzwski, J., Wald, A. et al. Fluorescent light interferes with pulse oximetry. J Clin Monitor Comput 5, 135–136 (1989).

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Key words

  • Equipment: pulse oximeters
  • Monitoring: oxygen
  • Measurement techniques: pulse oximetry