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Biomedical Engineering

In vivo investigations of photoplethysmograms and arterial oxygen saturation from the auditory canal in conditions of compromised peripheral perfusion

Project Details

Principal Investigator:  Prof P Kyriacou

Researcher:  Mr K Budidha

Project Description

Pulse oximeters rely on the technique of photoplethysmography (PPG) to estimate arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2). In conditions of poor peripheral perfusion such as hypotension, hypothermia, and vasoconstriction, the PPG signals detected are often small and noisy, or in some cases unobtainable. Hence, pulse oximeters produce erroneous SpO2 readings in these circumstances. The problem arises as most commercial pulse oximeter probes are designed to be attached to peripheral sites such as the finger or toes, which are easily affected by vasoconstriction. In order to overcome this problem, the ear canal was investigated as an alternative site for measuring reliable SpO2s on the hypothesis that blood flow to this central site is preferentially preserved. Novel miniature ear canal PPG sensors were developed along with a state of the art PPG processing unit and a data acquisition system to allow for PPG measurements from different depths and surfaces of the ear canal. In vivo investigations under conditions that will induce peripheral hypoperfusion and vasoconstriction were conducted in order to investigate the hypothesis.