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Objective. To determine if an automatic algorithm using wavelet analysis techniques can be used to reliably determine respiratory rate from the photoplethysmogram (PPG). Methods. Photoplethysmograms were obtained from 12 spontaneously breathing healthy adult volunteers. Three related wavelet transforms were automatically polled to obtain a measure of resp iratory rate. This was compared with a secondary timing signal obtained by asking the volunteers to actuate a small push button switch, held in their right hand, in synchronisation with their respiration. In addition, individual breaths were resolved using the wavelet-method to identify the source of any discrepancies. Results. Volunteer respiratory rates varied from 6.5 6 to 18.89 breaths per minute. Through training of the algorithm it was possible to determine a respiratory rate for all 12 traces acquired during the study. The maximum error between the PPG derived rates and the manually determined rate was found to be 7.9%. Conclusion. Our technique allows the accurate measurement of respiratory rate from the photoplethysmogram, and leads the way for developing a simple non-invasive combined respiration and saturation monitor. © Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing

Publication Date





33 - 36