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What Is a Normal Pulse Oximetry Reading?

By Regina Edwards ; Updated July 27, 2017

A pulse oximeter is a medical device that indirectly measures levels of hypoxia. The device senses levels of oxygen saturation in arterial blood using spectral analysis, along with pulse rate. Generally, oximeters are accurate in measuring oxygen saturation between 70 and 100 percent.


A pulse oximeter is a medical device that measures levels of blood oxygen saturation, monitors pulse rate and calculates heart rate. It utilizes a non-invasive analysis to measure blood oxygen saturation, so no blood samples need to be drawn.


The primary utility of oximeters is to measure blood oxygen levels among newborns, patients with pulmonary disease and surgery patients.

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When the body or tissues are deprived of oxygen, it is in a state of hypoxia. Pulse oximeters are accurate in the critical range of 70 and 100 percent, which alerts physicians to critical states before symptoms can arise.

Normal Pulse Oximetry Readings

Normal blood oxygen saturation readings at or near sea level is between 95 to 100 percent, as measured by the pulse oximeter. Normal arterial blood flow and calculated heart rate depend on the state and age of the patient (such as newborn or unconscious adult).


Pulse oximeters attach to an external body part, such as a finger or earlobe, and utilizes spectral measurements. Consequently, external conditions such as altitude, temperature and lighting can affect the readings.

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