Our body needs an adequate supply of oxygen in order to function smoothly. Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive diagnostic test to measure the level of oxygen in blood. The pulse oximeter is a device that looks like a clothespin that is clipped on your finger or ear to obtain a reading.
Pulse oximetry is usually recommended during medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart attack, anemia, lung cancer, congestive heart failure, asthma or pneumonia. It may also be used to assess the need for a ventilator, during or after surgery and to check for tolerance during increased activity levels.
Pulse oximetry is performed on an outpatient basis or as a part of your hospital stay. Your doctor may clip the probe on your earlobe or finger, or place an adhesive probe on your finger or forehead. The probe is removed after a single reading or left in place for continuous monitoring.
As with any procedure, pulse oximetry may involve certain risks and complications such as tissue breakdown at the site of application if kept in place for a long time, or irritation of the skin from an adhesive probe.
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