Objectives: To examine the relative temporal appearance of flow limitation and snoring during continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) titration, compare their sensitivity as indicators of airway obstruction, and assess their relative utility as feedback variables for automatic titration of CPAP.
Design: Retrospective review of data.
Setting: University teaching hospital.
Patients: Fifty-three patients diagnosed as having obstructive sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome undergoing CPAP titration.
Measurements and results: We used a prototype automatic CPAP device that adjusts pressure in response to apnea, snoring, and/or flow limitation. The present study takes advantage of the frequent automatic decreases in pressure from a therapeutic level, as well as any technicianinitiated decreases in pressure. We tabulated, for each pressure decrease of >0.4 cm H2O, the occurrences of snoring alone, flow limitation alone, or simultaneous appearance of both. Of 2,177 automatic pressure decreases, 64% resulted in flow limitation alone, 8% in snoring alone, and 22% in the simultaneous occurrence of both. Overall, 86% of decreases resulted in flow limitation alone or were simultaneous with snoring, whereas 30% of decreases resulted in snoring alone or were simultaneous with flow limitation. In 10 of 35 patients, snoring alone occurred in >10% of the pressure decreases. In all but 5 of 133 manual pressure decreases, flow limitation developed at or above the pressure at which snoring developed.
Conclusions: While detection of snoring occasionally provided additional information, overall flow limitation was the earliest indicator of obstruction during decreases in CPAP.