Pulse oximetry screening: A review of diagnosing critical congenital heart disease in newborns

Melissa S. Engel, Lazaros Kochilas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Congenital heart disease (CHD) is one of the most common birth defects, with an incidence of nine out of every 1,000 live births. The mortality of infants with CHD has decreased over the past 3 decades, but significant morbidity and mortality continue to occur if not diagnosed shortly after birth. Pulse oximetry was recommended as a screening tool to detect critical CHD in 2011 by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. Pulse oximetry is a tool to measure oxygen saturation, and based on the presence of hypoxemia, many cardiac lesions are detected. Due to its ease of application to the patient, providing results in a timely manner and without the need for calibrating the sensor probe, pulse oximetry offers many advantages as a screening tool. However, pulse oximetry has also important limitations of which physicians should be aware to be able to assess the significance of the pulse oximetry measurement for a given patient. This review aims to highlight the benefits and shortcomings of pulse oximetry within the context of screening for critical CHD and suggests future avenues to cover existing gaps in current practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-203
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Devices: Evidence and Research
StatePublished - Jul 11 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Engel and Kochilas.


  • Congenital heart disease
  • Critical congenital heart disease
  • Newborn
  • Newborn screening
  • Pulse oximetry


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