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TechSectors: Are You Sleeping? Real-Time Screener Helps Physicians Identify Likely OSA Patients

MDNG Primary Care, September 2007, Volume 9, Issue 9

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea brief interruptions of respiration during sleep for 10-30 seconds or longer that occur up to 400 times each night affects more than 18...

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea—brief interruptions of respiration during sleep for 10-30 seconds

or longer that occur up to 400 times each night—affects more than 18 million Americans, with overweight males most at risk. This chronic condition is frequently unrecognized and therefore undiagnosed because of lack of awareness or treatment misperceptions among patients and healthcare providers. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)—by far the more common of the two types, the other being central sleep apnea—“is usually caused by the soft tissues in the back of the throat relaxing to the point that they obstruct or close off the airway.”

Primary care physicians, pulmonologists, neurologists, and other physicians with specialty training in sleep disorders can diagnose sleep apnea, often sending patients to a lab for confirmation via overnight polysomnography (PSG). The drawbacks of the PSG include the need to spend a night in a lab, patient preparation, high costs, and long waiting lines. Th us, patient reluctance to go to a lab for an OSA diagnosis is common. With the introduction of the RUSleeping RTS (real-time screener), physicians now have an easy way to screen for apneic events directly in the patient’s home, the results of which may help encourage patients to undergo a PSG.

According to Rich Herrle, global product manager for Respironics Inc, “The RUSleeping RTS provides real-time objective evidence that the physician can use to tell if a patient is a likely candidate for a PSG. The recorded data helps the physician indicate to the apneic patient the strong need to undergo the PSG, getting the patient one step closer to diagnosis and treatment, which is what good outcomes are all about.”

Weighing less than two ounces, the base unit of the device resembles a pager and has nine hours of data storage capacity. One AAA battery and a nasal cannula are included. The patient clips the device to his or her garment, bed, or pillow; attaches the nasal cannula; and installs the battery, with respiratory airflow pressure at the nose sensed via the cannula.

Decreases in breathing of 50% or more for 10 seconds or longer are recorded on the LCD readout. Upon awakening, the total nightly apneic events are displayed. By pressing a button, the patient can see the average hourly apneic events. Pressing the button again displays the number of events by the hour. The patient then phones the score to the physician’s office and mails back the device.

According to Mr. Herrle, “By providing objective results in real-time, the physician is able to avoid downloading software, manipulating data, and customizing reports. It is less cumbersome, less expensive and easier to use than other screening

devices on the market, and the results are easier to interpret.”

The RUSleeping RTS is an objective device designed to be used to supplement subjective screening methods such as questionnaires and diaries.

For more information about Respironics or the RUSleeping RTS device.