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Anesth Analg. 2005 Mar;100(3):743-7, table of contents.

The effect of venous pulsation on the forehead pulse oximeter wave form as a possible source of error in Spo2 calculation.

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1
Department of Anesthesiology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. kirk.shelley@yale.edu

Abstract

Reflective forehead pulse oximeter sensors have recently been introduced into clinical practice. They reportedly have the advantage of faster response times and immunity to the effects of vasoconstriction. Of concern are reports of signal instability and erroneously low Spo(2) values with some of these new sensors. During a study of the plethysmographic wave forms from various sites (finger, ear, and forehead) it was noted that in some cases the forehead wave form became unexpectedly complex in configuration. The plethysmographic signals from 25 general anesthetic cases were obtained, which revealed the complex forehead wave form during 5 cases. We hypothesized that the complex wave form was attributable to an underlying venous signal. It was determined that the use of a pressure dressing over the sensor resulted in a return of a normal plethysmographic wave form. Further examination of the complex forehead wave form reveal a morphology consistent with a central venous trace with atrial, cuspidal, and venous waves. It is speculated that the presence of the venous signal is the source of the problems reported with the forehead sensors. It is believed that the venous wave form is a result of the method of attachment rather than the use of reflective plethysmographic sensors.

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