Arterial oxygen saturation values (Sao2) from 60% to 98% were measured by the Ohmeda 3700 pulse oximeter with the three types of probe available and compared with values of oxygen saturation estimated from direct arterial sampling (arterial oxygen and carbon dioxide tensions and pH) on 65 occasions. The response time of the oximeter was measured after a sudden rise in inspired oxygen concentration. Artefact rejection was assessed by arterial compression proximal to the probe site, and by simultaneous recordings of overnight Sao2 on opposite hands. The ability to recreate patterns of oscillating Sao2 from the data stored in the oximeter was also investigated. With the best probe system the oximeter measured Sao2, relative to arterial values estimated from Pao2, with a mean (SD) difference of -0.4% (1.8%). The response time was comparable with those of previous oximeters. It was not possible to generate artefactual dips in excess of 2% Sao2, and the dual overnight recordings rarely showed even small dips on one tracing alone. The stored data can recreate oscillating Sao2 signals with wavelengths down to about 35 seconds, but not below. The Ohmeda 3700 pulse oximeter appears to be suitable for unattended overnight recordings of Sao2.
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