Noninvasive assessment of the digital volume pulse: Comparison with the peripheral pressure pulse

Sandrine C. Millasseau, Franck G. Guigui, Ronan P. Kelly, Krishna Prasad, John R. Cockcroft, James M. Ritter, Philip J. Chowienczyk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


The digital volume pulse can be recorded simply and noninvasively by photoplethysmography. The objective of the present study was to determine whether a generalized transfer function can be used to relate the digital volume pulse to the peripheral pressure pulse and, hence, to determine whether both volume and pressure pulse waveforms are influenced by the same mechanism. The digital volume pulse was recorded by photoplethysmography in 60 subjects (10 women, aged 24 to 80 years), including 20 subjects with previously diagnosed hypertension. Simultaneous recordings of the peripheral radial pulse and digital artery pulse were obtained by applanation tonometry and a servocontrolled pressure cuff (Finapres), respectively. In 20 normotensive subjects, measurements were obtained after the administration of nitroglycerin (NTG, 500 μg sublingually). Transfer functions obtained by Fourier analysis of the waveforms were similar in normotensive and hypertensive subjects. In normotensive subjects, transfer functions were similar before and after NTG. By use of a single generalized transfer function for all subjects, the radial and digital artery pressure waveforms could be predicted from the volume pulse with an average root mean square error of 4.4±2.0 and 4.3±1.9 mm Hg (mean±SD) for radial and digital artery waveforms, respectively, similar to the error between the 2 pressure waveforms (4.4±1.4 mm Hg). The peripheral pressure pulse is related to the digital volume pulse by a transfer function, which is not influenced by effects of hypertension or NTG. Effects of NTG on the volume pulse and pressure pulse are likely to be determined by a similar mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)952-956
Number of pages5
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Hypertension, essential
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Plethysmography
  • Pulse
  • Tonometry


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