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Background: We have developed an automated algorithm to allow the measurement of respiratory rate directly from the photoplethysmogram (pulse oximeter waveform). Aim: To test the algorithm's ability to determine respiratory rate in children. Methods: A convenience sample of patients attending a paediatric Accident and Emergency Department was monitored using a purpose-built pulse oximeter and the photoplethysmogram (PPG) recorded. Respiration was also recorded by an observer activating a push-button switch in synchronization with the child's breathing. The switch marker signals were processed to derive a manual respiratory rate that was compared with the wavelet-based oximeter respiratory rate derived from the PPG signal. Results: Photoplethysmograms were obtained from 18 children aged 18 mo to 12 y, breathing spontaneously at rates of 17 to 27 breaths per minute. There was close correspondence between the wavelet-based oximeter respiration rate and the manual respiratory rate, with the difference between them being less than one breath per minute in all children. Conclusion: Our automated algorithm allows the accurate determination of respiratory rate from photoplethysmograms of a heterogeneous group of children. We believe that our automated wavelet-based signal-processing techniques could soon be easily incorporated into current pulse oximetry technology. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics

Publication Date





1124 - 1128