Respiratory rate is an important measurement in patient care but frequently poorly assessed. We set out to develop a simple non-invasive device to reliably measure respiratory movements and estimate respiratory rate, in clinical circumstances.Methods
Respiratory movement was detected with an encapsulated tri-axial accelerometer (Orient speck) and the data transmitted wirelessly to a computer for analysis. We studied subjects after gynaecological surgery who received opioid analgesia, and compared the derived signal with a signal from nasal cannula using directly matched breaths and within the same 5 min epoch. We analysed the signals for 5 min epochs over a 15 h recording period.Results
For matched breath analysis, the instantaneous respiratory rates matched within 2 bpm on 86% of occasions. A similar match was found between epoch averages of the respiratory rate. The mean absolute difference between the respiratory rate measured by nasal cannula and Orient speck was 0.6 bpm. The Orient speck generated reliable measures of respiratory rate every 5 min in 95.4% of epochs.Conclusions
The Orient speck provides a reliable measure of respiratory rate at frequent intervals in subjects receiving patient-controlled morphine analgesia after surgery.