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Sleep Med Rev. 2003 Oct;7(5):391-401.

The efficacy of split-night sleep studies.

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  • 1Department of Acute/Tertiary Care, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is the most commonly used medical modality to reverse the apneas, hypopneas and inspiratory flow-limited breaths which result in the oxyhemoglobin desaturation, altered sleep architecture, and daytime sleepiness representing the cardinal features of obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea (OSA/H). Identifying optimal strategies to develop the initial positive airway prescription is of paramount importance to clinicians who evaluate patients with suspected OSA/H. In addition, with the growing appreciation of the clinical and physiologic importance of sleep-disordered breathing, there have been increasing demands on clinical resources to diagnose and treat these patients. The time, hardware, and personnel-intensive nature of in-laboratory polysomnography (PSG) are significant in light of the traditional paradigm that utilizes a full night PSG for a diagnostic evaluation and when indicated, another full night for PAP titration. Efforts to identify time and resource-conserving alternatives to this paradigm have focused on in-laboratory split-night studies, in which the diagnosis of OSA/H can be made, and a positive pressure prescription defined during a single overnight PSG. Case-control studies indicate that, when certain guidelines are applied, split-night PSGs result in prescription efficacy and patient adherence, which are comparable to the traditional two-night strategy. However, prospective, randomized trials designed with adequate power are required to further define the impact of a split-night strategy on clinical outcome. As more information becomes available regarding the factors that determine long-term adherence to positive pressure therapy, the potential for efficient, expeditious treatment, and cost savings with split-night sleep studies will likely receive greater attention.

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