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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1990 Jun;97(6):493-8.

The effect of caput succedaneum on oxygen saturation measurements.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St James's University Hospital, Leeds.


Advances in oximetry have allowed the obstetrician to measure oxygen saturation in the fetus with non-invasive transcutaneous techniques. The influence of caput succedaneum formation on the oxygen saturation results obtained with a pulse oximeter was studied in 30 newborn infants. Caput was associated with a reduced oxygen saturation reading (mean reduction of 15%; P less than 0.001). This effect is partly due to a true drop in local tissue oxygenation but is exacerbated by a systematic error intrinsic to the physics of spectrophotometry. If continuous intrapartum oximetry is ever to become a part of routine obstetric monitoring then probes that pass through the cervix beyond the caput of the presenting part will be required if erroneously low readings are to be avoided.

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