Indirect measurement of blood pressure using a pulse oximeter in isoflurane anesthetized dogs


Address correspondence and reprint requests to:
Dr. D. H. Dyson, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada N1W 2G1.


Objective: To determine the accuracy of indirect blood pressure (BP) measurements obtained with a pulse oximeter as compared with direct measurements in dogs under isoflurane anesthesia. The Doppler and oscillometric BP monitors were included for comparison.

Design: Prospective, experimental study.

Animals: Twenty healthy dogs (23 ± 8 kg) anesthetized for research or teaching.

Interventions: Dogs were anesthetized with propofol or thiopental and maintained using positive pressure ventilation with isoflurane in 100% O2. Random adjustment of BP was achieved by inhalant adjustment or dopamine infusion to achieve low (≤85 mmHg), normal (90–120 mmHg), or high systolic BP (≥125 mmHg). Triplicate measurements for BP were taken with direct (dorsal pedal artery), Doppler (forelimb), oscillometric (same forelimb), and plethysmographic (pulse oximeter on tongue) methods.

Measurements and main results: Using regression analysis and a modified Bland–Altman's technique, the lowest bias was achieved with the Doppler. Systolic BP readings at low, normal, and high BP were within 10 mmHg of direct recordings 95%, 70%, and 30% of the time for pulse oximetry; 95%, 85%, and 55% of the time for Doppler; 42%, 65%, and 30% of the time for oscillometric determination, respectively. Oscillometric mean BP readings were within 10 mmHg of direct measurements 53%, 60%, and 45% of the time, respectively.

Conclusions: The pulse oximeter is an acceptable method for measuring BP in anesthetized dogs if assessment of trends is sufficient. All indirect methods showed greater bias and poorer precision at high BP. The Doppler may be the preferred indirect method.