An improved optical sensor which has increased sensitivity and which is resistant to the effects of ambient light. In one embodiment of the invention, the sensor housing has a flat lower face with a central protrusion in which a plurality of light emitting diodes and an optical sensor are mounted. When the sensor is placed on the patient's tissue, the portion of the sensor face containing the LEDs and detector protrudes slightly into the tissue to provide improved optical coupling of the sensor to the skin. A light absorbing compliant material is attached to the perimeter of the sensor to reduce the effects of ambient light and to provide a cushion to minimize discomfort to the patient. In an alternate embodiment of the sensor, the LEDs and detector are mounted in a horizontal configuration substantially parallel to the surface of the tissue. The light produced by the LEDs is projected into a central chamber of the housing where the respective beams are combined and directed toward the tissue. In this emodiment, the desired combining of the beams can be achieved through the use of a set of mirrors or a prism. Various combinations of the improvements provided by each of the embodiments described above can be incorporated into either a transmission or backscatter optical sensor to provide a compact, sensitive optical sensor which is resistant to interference caused by ambient light.
Jonathan P. Jaeb; Dennis W. Gilstad; Ronald L. Branstetter