J Anesth. 2021 Aug 2. doi: 10.1007/s00540-021-02967-z. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Dr. Takuo Aoyagi invented pulse oximetry in 1974. Pulse oximeters are widely used worldwide, most recently making headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Aoyagi passed away on April 18, 2020, aware of the significance of his invention, but still actively searching for the theory that would take his invention to new heights.
METHOD: Many people who knew Dr. Aoyagi, or knew of him and his invention, agreed to participate in this tribute to his work. The authors, from Japan and around the world, represent all aspects of the development of medical devices, including scientists and engineers, clinicians, academics, business people, and clinical practitioners.
RESULTS: While the idea of pulse oximetry originated in Japan, device development lagged in Japan due to a lack of business, clinical, and academic interest. Awareness of the importance of anesthesia safety in the US, due to academic foresight and media attention, in combination with excellence in technological innovation, led to widespread use of pulse oximetry around the world.
CONCLUSION: Dr. Aoyagi's final wish was to find a theory of pulse oximetry. We hope this tribute to him and his invention will inspire a new generation of scientists, clinicians, and related organizations to secure the foundation of the theory.