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An Oximeter helps measure the oxygen level (or oxygen saturation) in the blood. It is useful in measuring the efficiency of oxygen delivery to the peripheral tissues such as the finger, nose and earlobes. A pulse Oximeter helps monitor the blood oxygen levels of patients suffering pulmonary or cardiac diseases such as congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Oximeter works on the pulsating feature of the blood flow in the arteries and light absorption capacity of hemoglobin to indicate the body's oxygenation status in a Photoplethysmogram (Volumetric measurement obtained through an optical device).

The Pulse Oximeter beams red and infrared light into the capillaries inside the finger. While oxygenated blood absorbs light at 660nm (red light), the 940nm (infra-red) is absorbed preferentially by deoxygenated hemoglobin in the blood. The relative absorption of light is measured by light collecting sensors. This information is then processed to arrive at the oxygen saturation level of the blood. The pulse Oximeter also displays the pulse rate. Factors that affect the accuracy of the pulse Oximeter readings are weak pulse, hypoperfusion (poor blood circulation), vasoconstriction, cold hands, acrylic nails and high altitude.

The oxygen saturation (SpO2) is measured as a percentage of full capacity. SpO2 should ideally be between 96% to 99%. When the SpO2 falls below 92%, it is suggestive of Hypoxemia or Hypoxia. The patient might need oxygen supplementation.


Pleurisy is a condition that is caused when the pleura (moist membrane surrounding the lungs and rib cage) is inflamed. Pleurisy or Pleuritis, as it is otherwise referred to, is characterized by fluid accumulation at the site of the inflammation. This fluid makes it difficult to breathe and leads to shortness of breath and cough. It also lays pressure on the lunds and reduced their ability to move freely. Most often, pleurisy is caused by viral infection. It can be the result of lung or heart disease. Diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and rheumatic disease. Pulmonary embolism or rheumatoid arthritis can also bring on an attack of pleurisy. Primary pleurisy occurs when there is inflammation of the pleural tissues from a direct infection or injury on them. On the other hand, secondary pleurisy occurs when it is the result of any other chest disease. Severe pain in the chest is one of the main symptoms of pleurisy. The pain is felt over the chest at the site of the pleural inflammation. Chest pain becomes acute during deep breathing, coughing and sneezing. Other symptoms of pleuritis are dry cough and fever. Pain may also be felt in the neck, shoulder or abdomen.

Diagnostic tests such as chest x-ray and chest ultrasound are used to detect the degree and extent of pleuritis. Thoracentesis involves collection of fluid from the pleural cavity. Removal of this fluid aids easier breathing. A pulse oximeter allows a physician to check the amount of oxygen in the blood. ECG may show any heart-related conditions that could be the cause for pleuritis. Sometimes a sputum sample is taken for analysis.

A patient suffering from pleurisy may be administered oxygen by a mask or nasal prong to facilitate breathing. If a bacterial infection is the cause, it has to be treated with suitable antibiotics. Inflammation of the pleura is reduced with the help of anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone drugs. Often the patient is advised to rest and limit the strain on the lungs. Painkillers can help in alleviating pain and discomfort.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a test which is performed to obtain certain diagnostic information about the heart. Patients may require this medical therapy rather than undergo angioplasty or bypass surgery when they suffer from rare or easily controlled episodes of angina. Alternatively, cardiac catheterization is not performed in patients who have infrequent episodes of angina and in whom angina can be easily controlled. When a patient has heart failure due to suspected coronary artery disease or there is suspected coronary artery disease, cardiac catheterization is conducted. Cardiac catheterization can help:

  • Measure blood pressure within heart.
  • Know the amount of oxygen in the blood.
  • Check the pumping ability of the heart muscle.
  • Check blood flow through the heart after surgery.
  • Collect blood samples from the heart.
  • Inject dye into the coronary arteries.
  • To provide treatment in certain types of heart conditions like congenital heart defects and how severe it is.
  • To find out a coronary artery disease and if found to pinpoint the size and location of fat and calcium deposits that have built up in coronary artery from atherosclerosis.
  • To determine whether the patient needs bypass surgery or angioplasty.
  • Examine the arteries of the heart with an x-ray technique called fluoroscopy.

The patient is asked not to drink or eat anything, except a small amount of water, for at least 6 to 12 hours before the test. The patient is tested for allergy to iodine or other medications. Patients suffering from kidney disease or diabetes or bleeding disorders must keep the cardiologist informed. The cardiac catheterization test is performed in a cath lab by a cardiologist. The actual catheterization procedure takes about 15 - 30 minutes. The patient's electrocardiogram that continuously records the electrical activity of the heart is taken.

A pulse oximeter device that measures the oxygen levels of the patients' blood is monitored. An intravenous needle is inserted into the patients' vein to give fluids or medicine during the catheterization procedure. A sedative is also given through this IV line which helps the patient to relax.

Cardiac catheterization procedure involves passing a catheter, a thin flexible tube, into the right or left side of the heart. The doctor inserts this thin plastic tube into the groin - femoral artery. Other places where in the catheter may be inserted are the elbow- brachial artery or the wrist - radial artery. From there it is slowly advanced into the chambers of the heart or into the coronary arteries. The doctor watches the progress of the catheter into the heart's vessels and chambers on the imaging screen. Pressures within the heart chambers are measured and the blood and tissue samples are also removed through the catheter. A small amount of dye is also injected through the catheter into the heart chamber or into one of the coronary arteries.

Therapeutic catheterization: Certain types of heart defects can be repaired using catheterization. For instance, if the coronary arteries are blocked, the cardiologist can use a catheter, guide wire and balloon to open and improve blood flow to the heart. This is termed as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

Normal result indicate that there is no significant narrowing or blockage in the coronary arteries. Abnormal results may suggest that the heart does not pump blood normally or the valves in the heart may be weak. There may be leakage between heart chambers. There is a possibility of aortic aneurysm. Some complications with cardiac catheterization include heart attack or stroke, hematoma, puncture of the heart or arrhythmia.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: May 26, 2018