pulse oximeter

noun

plural pulse oximeters
: a noninvasive medical device that utilizes spectrophotometry to measure the oxygen saturation of circulating arterial blood in an individual by determining the percentage of oxygenated hemoglobin pulsating through a network of blood capillaries by way of a sensor attached typically to a finger, toe, or earlobe
Your pulse oximeter will give you a numerical reading—a percentage that indicates the level of oxygen saturation in your blood.Tara Parker-Pope

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web By measuring how much of that light is absorbed, the pulse oximeter estimates how much oxygen is flowing through the blood. Time, 1 Nov. 2022 Ultimately, the pulse oximeter can estimate the amount of oxygen in the blood without the need for a blood sample. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, 1 Nov. 2022 Studies found that pulse oximeter devices are less accurate for dark skin tones. Amanda Su, ABC News, 30 Dec. 2022 The US Food and Drug Administration is mulling over next steps for the regulation of pulse oximeter devices, which may give less accurate readings for people of color. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, 7 Dec. 2022 In the study, the researchers used a smartphone’s camera — with the flash on — to take a video of a person’s blood flow on one finger and track it with a pulse oximeter device on their other finger. Natallie Rocha, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Sep. 2022 The global spread of a respiratory disease with a hallmark symptom of breathing difficulty sent pulse oximeter usage soaring—elevating the problem of racial disparities. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 15 Sep. 2022 However, evidence of flawed pulse oximeter readings in people with dark skin dates to the 1980s. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, 1 Nov. 2022 In July, another study in JAMA Internal Medicine by researchers in Boston, found darker skinned patients in intensive care who had inaccurate pulse oximeter readings ended up receiving less supplemental oxygen. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 15 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pulse oximeter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1984, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pulse oximeter was in 1984

Dictionary Entries Near pulse oximeter

Cite this Entry

“Pulse oximeter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pulse%20oximeter. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Medical Definition

pulse oximeter

noun
: a noninvasive medical device that utilizes spectrophotometry to measure the oxygen saturation of circulating arterial blood in an individual by determining the percentage of oxygenated hemoglobin pulsating through a network of blood capillaries by way of a sensor attached typically to a finger, toe, or earlobe

Note: The pulse oximeter typically sounds an alarm if the blood saturation becomes less than optimal.

Pulse oximeters measure hemoglobin oxygen saturation via an external probe. The light of two varying wavelengths passes through the skin, and the difference in absorbance by arterial blood of these two wavelengths by the photodetector within the pulse oximeter is used to calculate the level of oxygenation.Pediatric Emergency Medicine Reports
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