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Clin Phys Physiol Meas. 1988 Nov;9(4):319-30.

Repeatability of peripheral pulse measurements on ears, fingers and toes using photoelectric plethysmography.

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Regional Medical Physics Department, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Peripheral pulses have been recorded and analysed to determine the accuracy with which pulse transit times (PTTs) can be measured. Measurements of PTT between the ECG Q-wave and various peripheral sites were made in 10 normal subjects on 10 separate days. Mean values were determined for the ears (174 ms), fingers (245 ms), and toes (361 ms). The technique was sufficiently accurate to detect small changes in PTT due to changes in posture; sitting to lying, 5.2 ms. When comparing simultaneous measurements on bilateral sites only small differences in PTT were discovered, and these were not significant in the study group as a whole. However, these differences were significant in some individuals. When the subjects raised a single arm or leg, significant differences (38 ms and 49 ms respectively) were recorded between sides. The day-to-day repeatability sigma (expressed as the square root of the within-subject mean square variance) of individual PTT measurements on a subject (supine) was for ears, fingers and toes respectively 9.4, 9.2 and 12 ms. For right-left differences the repeatability was 7.2, 5.9 and 14 ms. Hence changes in PTTs, or differences between right and left sides, can be detected from single measurements with 95% confidence if they exceed approximately 20 ms in ears or fingers and 30 ms in toes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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