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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Jan 15;171(2):188-93. Epub 2004 Oct 14.

Clinical usefulness of home oximetry compared with polysomnography for assessment of sleep apnea.

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Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


The practical purpose of diagnostic assessment in most cases of obstructive sleep apnea is to predict which patients have symptoms that will improve on treatment. We measured the accuracy with which clinicians make this prediction using polysomnography compared with oximeter-based home monitoring. Patients referred to a sleep center with suspicion of symptomatic obstructive sleep apnea were randomized to have polysomnography or home monitoring. Patients with comorbidity or physiologic consequences of sleep apnea were excluded. Sleep specialists estimated the likelihood of success of treatment as greater than 50% (predicted success) or less than 50% (predicted failure) on the basis of clinical data and test results. All patients were treated for 4 weeks with autoadjusting continuous positive airway pressure. Success was defined as an increase greater than 1.0 in Sleep Apnea Quality of Life Index. Correct prediction rates were compared. Two hundred eighty-eight patients were enrolled. Initial patient characteristics, compliance, and improvement in quality of life at 4 weeks were not different in the two groups. The correct prediction rate was 0.61 with polysomnography and 0.64 with home monitoring (not significant). We conclude that the ability of physicians to predict the outcome of continuous positive airway treatment in individual patients is not significantly better with polysomnography than with home oximeter-based monitoring.

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