How are pulse oximetry results expressed in pulmonary function testing?

Updated: May 14, 2020
  • Author: Kevin McCarthy, RPFT; Chief Editor: Nader Kamangar, MD, FACP, FCCP, FCCM  more...
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Documentation of the type of pulse oximeter used, probe type, and probe site should be included on each report. The heart rate and SpO2 readings at rest should be reported.

When obtaining pulse oximetry readings during exercise, the type and intensity of exercise (eg, walking speed, duration of activity) along with the heart rate and SpO2 at the end of the activity should be reported. When desaturation is detected, the activity should be repeated with supplemental oxygen in place to demonstrate improvement in SpO2 values.

Pulse oximetry is often performed (though optional) in the setting of the 6-minute walk test, a standardized measure of functional exercise capacity. [14] This test is a measure of the maximum distance the patient is able to walk in a hallway with a minimum of 100 feet marked in 5-foot increments. The patient is permitted to slow down or even stop, if required. However, the elapsed time counter continues during rest periods. This test should be performed while exercise oxygen needs are being adequately met with portable oxygen delivery. Borg dyspnea and fatigue scores are collected immediately after completion of the walk.

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