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Variability of photoplethysmography peripheral pulse measurements at the ears, thumbs and toes

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John Allen, Dr Alan Murray


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Pulses radiating to the periphery after each heart beat can be detected by photoplethysmography (PPG). A multi-site PPG measurement and analysis system is described for beat-to-beat analysis of the pulse waveforms, Waveforms were collected from the right and left ear lobes, thumb pads. and toe pads of 30 normal subjects whilst they performed paced breathing. The median coefficients of variation for pulse amplitude were: ears and thumbs 11%,. and toes 14%, Significant differences in pulse transit time of 4ms (to foot of pulse), and 14ms (to peak of pulse) between the right and left toes were detected (right lagging left, p < 0.01). The median pulse transit times (to foot) were: ears (0.133s), thumbs (0.199s), and toes (0.301s), with coefficients of variation: 2.8%, 2.2, and 1.6%, respectively. The median pulse transit rimes (to peak) were: ears (0.397s), thumbs (0.436s), and toes (0.515s), with coefficients of variation: 1.4%, 2.0%, and 1.5% respectively. The authors have utilised signal processing algorithms to calculate beat-to-beat measures of pulsatility, and determined normative data for multi-site PPG pulse assessments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Allen J, Murray A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: IEE Proceedings - Science, Measurement and Technology

Year: 2000

Volume: 147

Issue: 6

Pages: 403-407

ISSN (print): 1350-2344

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Institution of Electronic and Electrical Engineers


DOI: 10.1049/ip-smt:20000846


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