Factors influencing selection of Pulse-oximeter & SpO2 Probes


Pulse-oximetry has become almost mandatory in ICUs, recovery rooms, OTs and even patient rooms today. But which is the best pulse-oximeter? Whether it is standalone ones like Masimo or Nellcor or integrated ones, there is tremendous research and debate. Often the ongoing debate is on whether finger transmission is better or forehead reflectance is more effective? Do you favour the Masimo SET or Nellcor’s OxiMax? Each one has their own favourite. So what is one looking for when they purchase a pulse-oximeter or SPO2 probe?


Users say the device should be fast, accurate and consistent, preferably work effectively across a range of patients –neonates to adults. But the fact is most of the time, depending upon type of patient; type of SPO2 probe also needs to be changed

  • For Neonatal: Wrap (Disposable/ Reusable)
  • For Pediatric: Pediatric Probe
  • For Adult: Adult Probe


Site of probe placement also matters in certain cases; Palm, Foot, Ear lobe, Finger etc. One needs to ensure that disposable type of probes should be disposed-off after intended use; we cannot expect the same performance on reuse.

Reusable probes should be cleaned and disinfected after patient discharge or transfer. Blood and other body fluids on the probe sensor may affect the functionality.


A bio-medical engineer when asked what she is looking for in a SPO2 probe –said ‘durability’ – longer life … at least a year or two? I am sure people in purchase department would tend to agree. Most commonly available ‘compatible’ SPO2 probes do not last more than 3-6 months at best. So, what are the common factors that necessitate replacement of SPO2 probes?

  1. Sensor failure
  2. Connector quality
  3. Damage to connector pins – This is mostly due to mishandling by users


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