The Cerebral Oximetry Marketplace: What's Available, and Which Features Matter

December 1, 2013 | Evaluations & Guidance


Cerebral oximetry is used to monitor blood oxygen saturation in the brains of adult, pediatric, infant, and neonatal patients. It does so by using sensors attached to the patient’s forehead to beam near-infrared light through the patient’s skin, bone, and brain tissue, and then to measure the absorption of the light. Cerebral oximeters are typically used during circumstances in which the brain may have reduced oxygen supply, such as during cardiac surgery. Exposure to reduced oxygen supply in the brain can quickly lead to neurologic injury or cognitive dysfunction.

Choosing a cerebral oximeter can be overwhelming. There are a number of factors that vendors focus on to try to entice customers to choose their product. However, these may not be the factors you should focus on. In addition, there is currently inadequate evidence demonstrating that one monitor will provide a more clinically useful reading than the others.

We’ll help you sort through the claims to determine which features to consider when making a purchase. This information can serve as a starting point for facilities that are looking to acquire this technology. We also describe the capabilities and technical specifications of three cerebral oximeters:

Certain procedures—such as cardiac surgery—can expose the brain to reduced oxygen supply, which can quickly lead to neurological injury or cognitive dysfunction. Cerebral oximeters provide continuous, noninvasive monitoring of blood oxygen saturation in the area of the brain that lies beneath the forehead, and can warn clinicians if the levels drop. This type of monitoring is often referred to as a measurement of regional oxygen saturation (rSO2).

Cerebral oximetry employs near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to measure the absorption of near-infrared light as it is beamed into the brain. NIRS takes advantage of the different absorption characteristics of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin within the near-infrared light spectrum, as well as the ability of near-infrared light to penetrate bone and tissue. The rSO2 is estimated by comparing the absorption differences...

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