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Ambulatory recording of sleep apnea using peripheral arterial tonometry.

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Division for Pulmonary Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine Hospital of Philipps-University, Baldingerstr. 1, D-35033 Marburg, Germany.


Sleep related breathing disorders are common. A reliable diagnosis with relatively simple and portable methods is still needed. One approach is to make use of autonomous nervous system changes which accompany disordered breathing during sleep. The peripheral arterial tonometry (PAT) determines the peripheral arterial vascular tone using a plethysmographic method on the finger. The peripheral arterial tone is modulated by sympathetic activity, by peripheral blood pressure, and by the peripheral resistance of the vessels. We investigate a new ambulatory recording device which uses PAT, oximetry and actigraphy in order to detect sleep apnea. For this purpose we performed a comparative study on 21 patients referred to our sleep laboratory due to suspected sleep apnea. Of these 17 valid recordings were compared. The Watch-PAT was used in parallel with cardiorespiratory polysomnography and the validity was determined. The new system is able to detect apneas and hypopneas with a high reliability (r=0.89). It is very sensitive to arousals (r=0.77). Since arousal are not specific to sleep apnea the specificity of the new system could not be finally clarified in this study. We conclude that the new system is very well suited to perform control studies in patients with sleep apnea which are under therapy and require regular follow-up investigations to maintain a high CPAP compliance.

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