Pulse Oximetry IDs Critical Congenital Heart Defects

CCHD screening for infants proves sucessful in New Jersey
CCHD screening for infants proves sucessful in New Jersey

(HealthDay News) – Pulse oximetry has high specificity, moderate sensitivity, and low false-positive rates for detecting critical congenital heart defects in asymptomatic newborns.

To investigate the accuracy of pulse oximetry for detecting critical congenital heart defects in asymptomatic newborns, Shakila Thangaratinam, PhD, of the Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of 552 studies. Thirteen eligible studies involving data from 229,421 newborns were identified and meta-analyses were conducted.

The researchers found that the overall sensitivity of pulse oximetry was 76.5% and specificity was 99.9% for detection of critical congenital heart defects. The false-positive rate was 0.14% and was dependent on the time of the test. If performed after the first 24 hours from birth, the false-positive rate was 0.05%, compared with 0.5% if performed within the first 24 hours from birth (P=0.0017).

"The findings of this meta-analysis provide compelling evidence for introduction of pulse oximetry as a screening method in clinical practice," the authors write. "The sensitivity of the test is higher than present strategies based on antenatal screening and clinical examination, and the false-positive rate is very low, especially when done after 24 hours of birth."

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