Pulse oximeters are medical devices which measures the blood oxygen saturation of a patient. It is normally attached to the finger, ear lobe or toe and is then connected to the pulse oximetry units. Pulse oximeters use red and infrared light to detect the oxygen in the blood stream. Good readings range from 90 to 100 saturation.
Before the pulse oximeter was developed, arterial blood gases were used in measuring the saturation of oxygen in patients. Decisions were then relied based on the appearance of the person.Because of this, there was a high mortality rate in patients with respiratory diseases due to the lack in medical devices.
Early scientists Lambert, Beer, Bunson, and Kirchoff were the ones who studied the monitoring of patients' blood level in 1860 and research about the blood oxygen saturation of people. Soon, other scientists continued their research in 1932. It was in 1940 when Millikan, Wood and Shaw developed the principles of pulse oximetry. However, it was only in 1972 when Takuo Aoyagi, a Japanese bio-engineer invented the first ever pulse oximeter by sending light through the tissues.
Then a modern type of device for pulse oximetry was designed by William Nes, MD, PhD in 1978. Over the years, the device has undergone several modifications. They became smaller, easier to apply and cheaper. It has been made available to hospitals when Hewlett Packard introduced it to the market. The first finger pulse oximeters which are small enough to put on the finger were available in the market only in 1995.
Then, the for-home use pulse oximeters were also invented. This helps patients who are at he comforts of their home to monitor their blood oxygen and if anything should happen, they can call their doctors and make the necessary diagnosis.
A for home use pulse oximeter is portable and is battery-operated.
Today, there are different pulse oximeters available in the market with different brands and kinds. They are more accurate in reading blood oxygen saturation and have digital displays and alarms. The doctors find them more effective because they are having an easier time in doing their rounds because of the fingertip pulse oximeters.