Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

Pulse Oximetry (Pulse Ox)

What Is Pulse Oximetry?

Pulse oximetry (often called pulse ox) is a painless test to measure how much oxygen is in the blood.

Why Is Pulse Oximetry Done?

Doctors may order pulse oximetry to see if there is enough oxygen in the blood. Oxygen levels may be low with lung infections, asthma, heart problems, allergic reactions, after anesthesia, and with other medical conditions.

How Should We Prepare for Pulse Oximetry?

If your child has nail polish on, the polish may need to be removed to allow the pulse ox to accurately measure the oxygen level.

What Happens During Pulse Oximetry?

During pulse oximetry, a small clip or bandage is put on a child's finger, toe, foot, or earlobe. This is called a sensor, and uses light to measure how much oxygen is in the blood.

Sometimes pulse ox is done once to get a single oxygen reading, and sometimes the sensor is left on for continuous monitoring of oxygen levels. If the sensor isn't put on well, it can affect the reading and make the oxygen level look lower than it actually is.

Can I Stay With My Child During Pulse Oximetry?

Parents can stay while their child wears the pulse ox sensor.

How Long Does Pulse Oximetry Take?

It usually takes a few seconds for the sensor to get the reading it needs. If your child is calm and staying still, it can help the pulse ox be more accurate.

When Are the Results Ready?

Pulse ox results are available immediately.

Are There Any Risks From Pulse Oximetry?

Pulse oximetry is a safe test. Occasionally, the sensor can cause skin irritation.

If you have questions about the pulse ox, speak with the doctor or another health professional on your child's care team.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: May 5, 2020

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.