MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Elizabeth Foglia, MD MSCE
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive method of monitoring oxygen saturation that is frequently used to monitor ill newborns and infants. Previous studies of adults with hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels) demonstrated that pulse oximetry is less accurate in adults with dark skin, compared to adults with light skin. We sought to determine if skin pigment affects the accuracy of pulse oximetry in infants with hypoxemia.
We studied 2 widely used pulse oximeters, and we did not find evidence that skin pigment affects the accuracy of pulse oximetry in infants with hypoxemia.
However, the overall performance (combined accuracy and precision) of both oximeters was poor. In addition, one oximeter (the Nellcor Oximax) consistently overestimated the measured blood oxygen level.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Although skin pigmentation did not affect the accuracy of pulse oximetry in our study, the combined accuracy and precision of both pulse oximeters was poor.
Providers should interpret absolute pulse oximetry measurements cautiously in infants with hypoxemia.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Hypoxemia is a physiologic finding in specific populations, such as infants immediately after birth or infants with cyanotic congenital heart disease. Pulse oximetry algorithms should be revised to improve pulse oximetry performance in these populations.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Foglia EE, Whyte RK, Chaudhary A, Mott A, Chen J, Propert KJ, Schmidt B: The Effect of Skin Pigmentation on the Accuracy of Pulse Oximetry in Infants with Hypoxemia. J Pediatr. 2016 Dec 9. pii: S0022-3476(16)31272-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.11.043. [Epub ahead of print]
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