Usefulness of pulse oximetry in screening of carotid atherosclerosis in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus

Silvia Pellitero, Jordi L. Reverter, Eduarda Pizarro, M. Luisa Granada, Eva Aguilera, Anna Sanmartí

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Background and objective: Pulse oximetry of the toes has been suggested in the screening of peripheral arterial disease. We studied the uselfuness of pulse oximetry in detection of type 2 diabetic patients with carotid atherosclerosis. Subjects and methods: 105 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) without previous clinical peripheral arterial disease were enrolled. All patients had (1) ankle-brachial index (ABI) measurement, (2) pulse oximetry to measure SaO2 of their index fingers and big toes in the supine position and at elevated 30 cm and (3) a carotid ultrasound [carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and carotid plaques (CP) measurements]. The ABI was considered abnormal when it was <0.9 and when the pulse oximetry showed a decrease in SaO2 of >2% of the finger compared to foot or to 30 cm foot elevation. Results: 60 patients were men (age of 62±7 years, HbA 1c of 6.9±1.0); 58.1% had CP. There were no differences in anthropometric and biochemical results between patients with or without CP. The ABI was <0.9 in 49% and 25% of patients with and without CP, respectively. Neither were there differences in pulse oximetry in patients with CP or in those with ABI <0.9. The IMT did not change in relation to pulse oximetry, but it was higher in patients with CP and with ABI <0.9 than in patients without alterations. These results were independent of the presence of previous clinical macroangiopathy. Conclusion: Pulse oximetry is not a useful screening method of carotid atherosclerosis in type 2 DM. © 2009 Elsevier España, S.L. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-20
JournalMedicina Clinica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2010


  • Carotid atherosclerosis
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus


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