Comparative Testing of Pulse Oximeter Probes

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The testing of pulse oximeter probes is generally limited to the integrity of the electrical circuit and does not include the optical properties of the probes. Few pulse oximeter testers evaluate the accuracy of both the monitor and the probe. We designed a study to compare the accuracy of nonproprietary probes (OSS Medical) designed for use with Nellcor, Datex-Ohmeda, and Criticare pulse oximeter monitors with that of their corresponding proprietary probes by using a commercial off-the-shelf pulse oximeter tester (Index). The Index pulse oximeter tester does include testing of the optical properties of the pulse oximeter probes. The pulse oximeter tester was given a controlled input that simulated acute apnea. Desaturation curves were automatically recorded from the pulse oximeter monitors with a data-collection computer. Comparisons between equivalent proprietary and nonproprietary probes were performed. Data were analyzed by using univariate and multivariate general linear model analysis. Five OSS Medical probe models were statistically better than the equivalent proprietary probes. The remainder of the probes were statistically similar. Comparative and simulation studies can have significant advantages over human studies because they are cost-effective, evaluate equipment in a clinically relevant scenario, and pose no risk to patients, but they are limited by the realism of the simulation.

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