Pulse Oximetry: Use the Earlobe

When using pulse oximetry to evaluate patients with Buerger disease, Raynaud phenomenon, a history of heavy smoking, or other conditions that cause vasoconstriction of the fingers, place the probe on the earlobe. In such patients, this gives a more accurate measurement of arterial hemoglobin saturation than does a digital placement.-- Lynda Sutliff, RN, FNP San Angelo, Tex

 

When using pulse oximetry to evaluate patients with Buerger disease, Raynaud phenomenon, a history of heavy smoking, or other conditions that cause vasoconstriction of the fingers, place the probe on the earlobe. In such patients, this gives a more accurate measurement of arterial hemoglobin saturation than does a digital placement.

-- Lynda Sutliff, RN, FNP
San Angelo, Tex

(Author's note: For this and countless other practical pointers, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my former collaborating physician, Dr Milton F. Williams, who passed away in March 2005.)

More Practical Pointers