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Wavelengths and SATs values


Pulse oximetry is nothing more than a specialized version of spectrometry / absorption spectroscopy. In spectrometry if the wrong wavelengths are used the results will not be accurate. This is no different for pulse oximetry.

Disposable and re-usable sensors work on the same principle. Both types of sensor are equally susceptible to wavelength errors and can be tested on The Lightman. We have heard it said that it is not worth testing disposable sensors for accuracy; we do not agree with this because the data from a disposable sensor is as important as the data from a re-usable sensor. If a sensor is discolored in any way The Lightman will predict the effect of this discoloration on the SATs vales.

At lower oxygen saturations the error introduced into pulse oximetry by wavelength errors is greater as the absorption of reduced haemoglobin is much more sensitive to wavelength errors. So just when it is needed, a pulse oximeter sensor can become useless. This is apparent in the graph where the gradient of the lines increase as saturation falls from 97% to 70%. It is normal to find that if a sensor has any error associated with it this error gets greater at lower levels of SATs. This is known as the magnification of errors. It is for this reason the magnification of errors - that sensor accuracy can not be tested on the finger of a volunteer at normal SATs values because this type of test will not reveal the magnitude of errors at lower oxygen saturation values.