Light-Based Device Spots Sleep Apnea

It's a less cumbersome method than is typically used, researchers say

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TUESDAY, Oct. 23, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Remote infrared imaging shows promise as a way to diagnose the nighttime breathing disorder called sleep apnea without disturbing a patients' sleep, a U.S. study finds.

Currently, sleep apnea is commonly diagnosed by placing sensors in the nose to measure airflow by nasal pressure, temperature, and/or carbon dioxide. But this can be uncomfortable and interfere with patients' normal sleep patterns.

In this study, researchers in Texas used remote infrared imaging (IR-I) to record an hour's worth of heat signals from the nostrils and mouths of 13 people. With IR-I, an infrared camera is placed six feet to eight feet from the patient's head, meaning there's minimal interference with the patient.

Comparing the techniques, the team found that IR-1 detected 20 sleep-disordered breathing events, compared with 22 events detected by nasal-oral thermistor and 19 events detected by nasal pressure.

The researchers noted that IR-I is portable and, unlike conventional methods, provides recorded data that can be re-analyzed after the patient's sleep session.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, in Chicago.

"The results from this study will greatly impact the development of this technology," lead author Dr. Jayasimha Murthy, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said in a prepared statement. "While implementation of this technology for clinical studies is still far away, these early results are encouraging enough for us to pursue this further."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about sleep apnea.

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Oct. 23, 2007

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