OBJECTIVE: For children with cyanotic congenital heart disease or acute hypoxemic respiratory failure, providers frequently make decisions based on pulse oximetry, in the absence of an arterial blood gas. The study objective was to measure the accuracy of pulse oximetry in the saturations from pulse oximetry (SpO2) range of 65% to 97%.
METHODS: This institutional review board–approved prospective, multicenter observational study in 5 PICUs included 225 mechanically ventilated children with an arterial catheter. With each arterial blood gas sample, SpO2 from pulse oximetry and arterial oxygen saturations from CO-oximetry (SaO2) were simultaneously obtained if the SpO2 was ≤97%.
RESULTS: The lowest SpO2 obtained in the study was 65%. In the range of SpO2 65% to 97%, 1980 simultaneous values for SpO2 and SaO2 were obtained. The bias (SpO2 – SaO2) varied through the range of SpO2 values. The bias was greatest in the SpO2 range 81% to 85% (336 samples, median 6%, mean 6.6%, accuracy root mean squared 9.1%). SpO2 measurements were close to SaO2 in the SpO2 range 91% to 97% (901 samples, median 1%, mean 1.5%, accuracy root mean squared 4.2%).
CONCLUSIONS: Previous studies on pulse oximeter accuracy in children present a single number for bias. This study identified that the accuracy of pulse oximetry varies significantly as a function of the SpO2 range. Saturations measured by pulse oximetry on average overestimate SaO2 from CO-oximetry in the SpO2 range of 76% to 90%. Better pulse oximetry algorithms are needed for accurate assessment of children with saturations in the hypoxemic range.
- ABG —
- arterial blood gas
- ABG/SpO2 pairs —
- simultaneous measurement of ABG and SpO2
- AHRF —
- acute hypoxemic respiratory failure
- Arms —
- accuracy root mean squared
- CCHD —
- cyanotic congenital heart disease
- FDA —
- US Food and Drug Administration
- SaO2 —
- arterial oxygen saturations from CO-oximetry
- SpO2 —
- saturations from pulse oximetry
- Accepted October 3, 2013.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics