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Clinical Investigations: SLEEP AND BREATHING |

Performance of Nasal Prongs in Sleep Studies*: Spectrum of Flow-Related Events

Lourdes Hernández, MD; Eugeni Ballester, MD; Ramón Farré, PhD; Joan Ramón Badia, MD; Rafael Lobelo, MD; Daniel Navajas, PhD; Josep Maria Montserrat, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Institut Clínic de Pneumologia i Cirurgia Toràcica (Drs. Hernández, Ballester, Badia, Lobelo, and Montserrat), Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, and Unitat de Biofísica i Bioenginyeria (Drs. Farré and Navajas), Facultat de Medicina, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain (Institut d′Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi Sunyer [IDIBAPS]).

Correspondence to: Josep M. Montserrat, MD, Institut Clínic de Pneumologia i Cirurgia Toràcica, Hospital Clínic, Villarroel 170, 08036 Barcelona, Spain; e-mail: jcanal@medicina.ub.es



Chest. 2001;119(2):442-450. doi:10.1378/chest.119.2.442
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Objectives: The use of nasal prongs connected to a pressure transducer is a noninvasive, sensitive method to detect respiratory events, and can be easily implemented in routine sleep studies. Moreover, its good time response allows the detection of several flow-related phenomena of high interest, in addition to apnea and hypopnea. The aims of the study were to examine the quality and performance of the nasal prong flow signal, and to describe other flow-related events during full-night polysomnography studies.

Methods: Twenty-seven subjects were studied (16 male subjects; mean ± SD age, 49 ± 14 years; mean body mass index, 27 ± 4 kg/m2): 15 subjects recruited from the general population and 12 consecutive patients with suspected sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (SAHS).

Results: A blind analysis of the respiratory events detected both by nasal prongs and thermistor was done. The quality of the nasal prong signal recordings was considered optimal for scoring purposes in 78% of cases, and no recording was considered uninterpretable. The nasal prong signal detected additional flow-related events not observed by the thermistor: (1) short and long (> 2 min) periods of inspiratory flow limitation morphology without decrease in the amplitude of the signal; (2) periods of mouth expiration; and (3) snoring. The apnea/hypopnea index was significantly higher with the nasal prong scoring (18 vs 11[ p < 0.05] in the general population and 37 vs 27 [p < 0.001] in the group with suspected SAHS).

Conclusions: The incorporation of nasal prongs in routine full-night studies is an attainable technical option that provides adequate recordings in most cases. Additionally, relevant information not scored by thermistors is obtained on flow-related respiratory events, thus increasing diagnostic accuracy.

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