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Acta Paediatr. 2012 May;101(5):484-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02571.x. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Determining the best method of Nellcor pulse oximeter sensor application in neonates.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.



To identify the optimal sensor application method that gave the quickest display of accurate heart rate (HR) data using the Nellcor OxiMax N-600x pulse oximeter (PO).


Stable infants who were monitored with an electrocardiograph were included. Three sensor application techniques were studied: (i) sensor connected to cable, then applied to infant; (ii) sensor connected to cable, applied to investigator's finger, and then to infant; (iii) sensor applied to infant, then connected to cable. The order of techniques tested was randomized for each infant. Time taken to apply the PO sensor, to display data and to display accurate data (HR(PO) = HR(ECG) ± 3 bpm) were recorded using a stopwatch.


Forty infants were studied [mean (SD) birthweight, 1455 (872) g; gestational age, 31 (4) weeks; post-menstrual age, 34 (4) weeks]. Method 3 acquired any data significantly faster than methods 1 (p = 0.013; CI, -9.6 to -3.0 sec) and 2 (p = 0.004; CI, -5.9 to -1.2 sec). Method 3 acquired accurate data significantly faster than method 1 (p = 0.016; CI, -9.4 to -1.0 sec), but not method 2 (p = 0.28).


Applying the sensor to the infant before connecting it to the cable yields the fastest acquisition of accurate HR data from the Nellcor PO.

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