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Pulse oximetry in paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea: is it used appropriately?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 August 2015

H Kanona*
Queen's Hospital, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Barking
S Sharma
Queen's Hospital, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Barking
K Chaidas
St Mary's Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
B Kotecha
Queen's Hospital, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Barking
Address for correspondence: Dr H Kanona, ENT Department, Queen's Hospital, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Rom Valley Way, Romford RM7 0AZ, Essex, UK Fax: +44 208 869 3098 E-mail:



This study assessed the use of pulse oximetry testing in children with suspected obstructive sleep apnoea in a hospital setting.


A retrospective review of patients who underwent pulse oximetry testing between April 2013 and October 2013 was performed. Primary outcome measures included positive pulse oximetry results, defined as a McGill oximetry score of 2–4.


Thirty-seven test results were usable for analysis: from 21 pre- and 16 post-operative tests. Only four patients had positive test results. There was a significant difference between pre- and post-operative quality of life outcome scores in the surgical group (p < 0.0001).


Pre-operative pulse oximetry should be used as a guide to help triage patients who require specialist paediatric services, such as a paediatric intensive care unit. The use of pulse oximetry, particularly in the post-operative setting, is unlikely to change patient management and can incur unnecessary financial costs to UK National Health Service Hospital Trusts.

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Copyright © JLO (1984) Limited 2015 

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