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What are the Different Types of Vital Signs Monitors?

Vital signs monitors are essential tools in healthcare, tracking key indicators like heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and temperature. From compact fingertip oximeters to advanced multiparameter patient monitors, these devices ensure timely patient assessments. Curious about how each type caters to specific medical needs? Dive deeper to discover the vital role these monitors play in sustaining life and health.
Patti Kate
Patti Kate

There are several types of vital signs monitors, including blood pressure monitors and heart rate monitors. Monitors used for measuring levels of anesthesia administered to a patient are known as anesthesia gas monitors. Monitors used for detecting fetal heartbeats and irregularities of the heart is called a fetal heart rate monitor. Most vital signs monitors store data and can record thousands of pieces of information.

Another type of medical equipment that can be classified as a vital signs monitor is a machine called a signal extraction pulse oximeter. This device is typically used by a patient's bedside and will monitor the saturation of oxygen in the blood, as well as the patient's pulse. The content of the patient's carboxyhemoglobin and methemoglobin can also be monitored with this piece of equipment. This is one type of monitor that may be used in a non-invasive way.

A vital signs monitor.
A vital signs monitor.

Fetal monitoring systems are used by physicians to detect activity of an unborn child. These monitors are also used to monitor changes of a fetus who may be at risk for complications before birth. Some of these high-end fetal vital signs monitors will also monitor vital signs of the mother. When a dangerous situation arises, a signal or alert will be triggered. The alerts are typically auditory and may also include alerts shown via a video monitor.

An electroencephalography (EEG) monitor is used for detecting activity and irregularities within the brain.
An electroencephalography (EEG) monitor is used for detecting activity and irregularities within the brain.

One type of portable vital signs monitor features a touch screen and a carrying handle, as well as a convenient battery backup. These are easy to use, compact, and convenient. These portable machines generally monitor blood pressure, pulse rate, and body temperature. Readouts from these monitors may be printed via a wireless printer, which may be included. Many of these monitors can also detect heart arrhythmias.

Blood pressure monitors are used to measure a patient's vital signs.
Blood pressure monitors are used to measure a patient's vital signs.

The Electrocardiography (EKG) monitor is another device used to monitor vital signs. These monitor the heart and various electrical activities. The EKG monitor may be used to detect subtle or major changes that may impair function. An electroencephalography (EEG) monitor is used for detecting activity and irregularities within the brain.

Emergency medical equipment and vital signs monitors may also be hand held. Most are used to monitor breathing and pulse. These devices are typically powered by rechargeable battery packs. Some of these hand-held monitors may need to be calibrated before they are used for the first time.

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Discussion Comments

Sporkasia
Heart rate monitors have been in hospitals for a long time and they are a standard piece of medical equipment. However, technology of the latter 20th century has made it possible for the average person to walk around with a heart monitor strapped to his body.

Today, athletes commonly use heart monitors when they are exercising as part of their training routines. A monitor of this type has a transmitter that is strapped to the chest, and then the receiver can be attached to the wrist. These monitors are based on an idea put forth by a Finnish professor in the mid 1970s.

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    • A vital signs monitor.
      By: Norman Chan
      A vital signs monitor.
    • An electroencephalography (EEG) monitor is used for detecting activity and irregularities within the brain.
      By: Tobilander
      An electroencephalography (EEG) monitor is used for detecting activity and irregularities within the brain.
    • Blood pressure monitors are used to measure a patient's vital signs.
      By: michaeljung
      Blood pressure monitors are used to measure a patient's vital signs.
    • A type of neurofeedback equipment, an electroencephalogram -- or EEG -- machine measures electrical impulse activity in the brain and can help give a diagnosis for conditions such as epilepsy.
      By: satori
      A type of neurofeedback equipment, an electroencephalogram -- or EEG -- machine measures electrical impulse activity in the brain and can help give a diagnosis for conditions such as epilepsy.
    • Supplemental oxygen may be used if a patient struggles to maintain adequate pulse oximetry levels.
      By: Leah-Anne Thompson
      Supplemental oxygen may be used if a patient struggles to maintain adequate pulse oximetry levels.
    • The fetal heart rate is monitored to ensure the baby is not stressed during labor and delivery.
      By: Monkey Business
      The fetal heart rate is monitored to ensure the baby is not stressed during labor and delivery.
    • Patients undergoing surgery have their breathing tracked by several machines, including anesthesia gas monitors.
      By: uwimages
      Patients undergoing surgery have their breathing tracked by several machines, including anesthesia gas monitors.
    • A pulse oximetry probe uses red and infrared light to measure oxygen saturation levels in the blood.
      By: Africa Studio
      A pulse oximetry probe uses red and infrared light to measure oxygen saturation levels in the blood.