How to use a sphygmomanometer correctly?

What is sphygmomanometer?

A sphygmomanometer is a medical device that measures blood pressure. It is a metal or plastic cuff that is inflated and then placed around the upper arm. The pressure inside the cuff is recorded using a machine.

Sphygmomanometer is another name for a blood pressure meter, gauge, or monitor. The words “sphygmomanometer” and “manometer” are derived from the Greek words “sphygmos” and “manometer,” respectively, which mean the instrument used to measure pressure or tension.

In the year 1881, Samuel Siegfried Karl Ritter von Basch created this device. However, Scipione Riva-Rocci introduced a more easy & simplified sphygmomanometer in 1896.

Types of sphygmomanometer

There are the three major types of sphygmomanometer;

Mercury sphygmomanometer:

It is the most common type of blood pressure device and is regarded as the industry gold standard. It is made up of manually inflated cuffs that are connected to tubes that is infused with mercury. In order to obtain accurate and correct readings, the device must be kept upright and on a smooth & horizontal surface.

Risks are very likely to occur if the instrument is dropped accidently. This sphygmomanometer has the advantages of being long-lasting, simple to use, and not requiring calibration. It is banned in several nations due to its hazardous contents.

Mercury sphygmomanometer


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Aneroid sphygmomanometer: 

Aneroid refers to something that is “without fluid,” since this instrument makes no use of mercury. It comprises of a stethoscope attached to a cuff, which is then connected via tubing to a dial gauge.

The gauge head has a mechanical component that converts the pressure in the cuff to the gauge pressure. In order to prevent inaccurate readings, the device needs to be calibrated.

Depending on their intended purpose, aneroid sphygmomanometers come in a variety of distinct forms including:

    1. Pocket-aneroid sphygmomanometer
    2. Palm aneroid sphygmomanometer
    3. Clock-style aneroid sphygmomanometer

Aneroid sphygmomanometer

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Automatic digital sphygmomanometer:

It is the most digital & technically advanced sphygmomanometer available in market. The blood pressure is measured using an electronic sensor, and the results are shown on the digital monitor.

The device monitors artery fluctuations in order to estimate blood pressure. To prevent false readings, these readings must be examined using a mercury sphygmomanometer.

Automatic digital sphygmomanometer

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Which sphygmomanometer is more accurate?

A recent study found that aneroid sphygmomanometers provide reliable readings. The automated devices are capable of measuring both systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Actually, the aneroid device improves diastolic accuracy by up to 98.7%. In comparison, the digital device has 67.7%.

Parts of sphygmomanometer:

Major parts of sphygmomanometer are given bellow;


This inflatable bag is applied to the arm to compress the artery. Bladders must meet particular sizing requirements in order to ensure complete arterial compression.


This is intended to hold the bladder around the arm during the measurement. The cuff must be appropriately designed  & positioned in order to provide an accurate measurement of blood pressure.


This instrument measures air pressure in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). An aneroid sphygmomanometer measures the air pressure that is applied to the cuff using a manometer that resembles a watch.

The gauge uses a series of copper or beryllium to expand the diaphragm, and there are gears to translate the linear movement of the diaphragm into measurements in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).


This serves as a cuff control deflation valve. To get an accurate and correct measurement, this is essential.


 Air is pumped into the inflatable cuff using this inflation bulb. When we squeeze this inflation bulb multiple time it inflate the cuff to our required limits

How to use a sphygmomanometer?

  1. Following procedure is to be followed to use a sphygmomanometer correctly;
  2. Blood pressure readings should be taken with a cuff whose length is 80% of the upper arm’s circumference.
  3. The lower edge of the cuff should be one inch above the antecubital fossa as you wrap it around the upper arm.
  4. Below the edge of the cuff, lightly press the stethoscope’s bell over the brachial artery.
  5. At a moderate rate, deflate the cuff until the pressure reaches 180 mmHg.
  6. Listen for the first knocking sound with a stethoscope and also keep an eye on the mercury gauge for observation.
  7. The subject’s systolic pressure is represented by the initial knocking sound.
  8. When the knocking sound stops, the diastolic pressure (for example, 120/80) is reached.
  9. The position of the subject and the size of the cuff should be noted, and this should be done for both the arms and the pressure.
  10. If the pressure is higher, the blood pressure measurement should be taken again few minutes after 1st reading.
  11. Immediate action should be done if the blood pressure is higher than 180/120mmHg.


Uses and benefits of Sphygmomanometer:

Measuring blood pressure:

The sphygmomanometer is most commonly used to measure blood pressure. It is also useful for veterinary purposes to measure blood pressure. This indicates that it is not just beneficial to humans but also to animals. This equipment is used by veterinarians to diagnose animals.

Monitoring the effectiveness of medications:

The sphygmomanometer is used by doctors to measure the effectiveness of medications on patients. There are two types of readings in it one is systolic and other is diastolic. The upper reading is the systolic while lower is diastolic pressure.

Helps to control hypertension:

High blood pressure is the cause of hypertension. Hypertension is a potentially fatal disorder that can result in a stroke, heart attack, or even death. Diabetes and tobacco use are the most common causes of such hypertension. The sphygmomanometer is used by the doctor to regulate hypertension. It will assist both doctors and patients in taking the necessary action.

Helps to detect the various diseases:

Various underlying ailments may be caused by high blood pressure. Doctors can use the data provided by the sphygmomanometer to diagnose underlying disorders. Blood pressure is always one of the first things tested and hence monitored during a medical examination. Doctors can quickly discover the condition by taking blood pressure readings.

First aid in ambulances:

Mostly doctors in emergencies use a sphygmomanometer to diagnose patients. Its readings are assisting them in providing prompt valid first aid. They can use it to determine which victim need more care and what kind of first aid should be administered. Some may even be able to estimate how much blood is currently losing by the victim.

Research work:

Sphygmomanometers are used in medical research by large number of research organisations such as WHO. Animals such as rabbits, mice, and pigs are being used to test the new medication & treatments. The sphygmomanometer allows researchers to study the types of effects that drugs can have on individuals. When developing novel medications for animals, researchers measure their blood pressure.


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