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Pulse Oximetry Can Detect Congenital Heart Disease

Meta-analysis suggests a specificity of more than 99 percent in newborns

THURSDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Pulse oximetry is a relatively sensitive and specific screening tool for congenital heart disease in newborns, and has a 0.2 percent false-positive rate, according to a report in the May issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Shakila Thangaratinam, of Birmingham Women's Hospital in Birmingham, U.K., and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of reports detailing the use of pulse oximetry to detect congenital heart disease in asymptomatic newborns. The investigators identified eight studies that encompassed nearly 36,000 patients.

Sensitivity values ranged from 25 percent to 98.5 percent, while specificity values ranged from 88 percent to 100 percent (though seven of the studies had specificity values between 98 percent and 100 percent). In aggregate, the analysis suggests pulse oximetry has a sensitivity of 63.4 percent and a specificity of 99.8 percent.

"Given the rarity of the outcome -- that is, congenital heart disease in the general population -- large, well-conducted and robust studies are essential to confirm the value of pulse oximetry as a screening test," the authors conclude.

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