How is pulse oximetry used to determine the severity of acute asthma in children?

Updated: Jan 07, 2019
  • Author: Michael J Morris, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

In children, pulse oximetry is often used to grade severity of acute asthma. Oxygen saturation of 97% or above constitutes mild asthma, 92-97% constitutes moderate asthma, and less than 92% signifies severe asthma. Although an isolated pulse oximetry reading at triage is not predictive in most cases (with the notable exception of severe attacks that usually are self-evident on visual inspection), serial monitoring of pulse oximetry status can provide more subtle evidence for or against the need for hospital admission.


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