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A very important tool for health care- Pulse Ox

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Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic.

Pulse Ox measure how much of the hemoglobin in blood is carrying oxygen (oxygen saturation).

If you work in healthcare (or have been patient!) you are very likely to have come across pulse ox. You can find them in areas such as operating rooms, recovery, critical care, wards, and ambulances. Pulse ox is in common use because they are non invasive, cheap to buy and use can be very compact, detects hypoxemia earlier than you using your eyes to see cyanosis.

The Pulse Ox is a diagnostic tool that enables the indirect measurement of the percentage of oxygenated hemoglobin in a patient's capillary blood. It has been widely used in secondary care for over two decades, especially in peri-operative, pediatric and intensive care patients. Pulse ox is often used in emergency departments, but is less well established in general practice Pulse Ox works by measuring the light absorption properties of haemoglobin using a red–infrared light source. The amount of light absorbed varies according to the proportion of oxygenated hemoglobin in the blood, and this is analyzed to generate a numerical saturation reading’s. Pulse oximetry is commonly used in the assessment of children with asthma and wheezing.Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has a considerable prevalence within the general practice population, and can cause overnight or exercise hypoxia. Some patients with COPD gain a survival benefit from long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT), usually administered via a home concentrator. Pulse oximetry has been used in general practice to screen COPD patients, identifying those who might benefit from LTOT.Another chronic disease use for pulse oximetry is in the assessment of patients with venous leg ulcers, where significant vascular disease is a contraindication for compression bandaging. A modified form of pulse oximetry has been proposed as an alternative to the technically difficult ankle-brachial pressure index (ABPI) to select which patients can be safely given compressive treatment of their venous leg ulcers Modified pulse oximetry has also been studied as a monitoring tool to track vascular disease progression in diabetic patients. The evidence base to support pulse oximetry is limited, but there are several areas where further work may demonstrate benefits from the application of this technology in primary care. It could also aid sensitivity of diagnosis in patients with chronic respiratory disease. Quantitative studies involving the rate of admission to hospital of acute respiratory illness might evaluate this device further in acute illness scenarios. Further qualitative studies could experience the use of portable oximeters. It is conceivable that the oximeters could be used in health promotion, for example in encouraging patients to give up smoking. While no clinician would base treatment solely upon its readings, there is some evidence for the usefulness of pulse oximetry in general practice.

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