Home-based Sleep Testing for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Virtually the Same as Laboratory Testing, New Study Reveals

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Jan 25, 2017 12:00 AM EST

SPOKANE, WA - DECEMBER 13: Ryan Gamble has wires applied to his head by lab technologist Amy Bender in preparation for a polysomnographic recording system demonstration at Washington State University Spokane's Sleep and Performance Research Center. The laboratory, established through $4.5 million in congressional funding, is one of four sleep research centers in the United States that concentrates solely on lab research combined with human field tests to see how sleep loss/deprivation affects work performance. (Photo : Jeff T. Green/Getty Images)

A new study involving the diagnosis and management of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) reveals that the data from home-based testing and laboratory-based testing are virtually the same. The study is published online by Ching Li Chai-Coetzer, MBBS, PhD and colleagues in the Annals of Internal Medicine last January 24, 2017.

According to Medscape, the authors of the study conducted a trial in sleep clinic patients with suspected OSA. The study involving 406 patients aimed to compare patient outcomes and physician decision making on the patients receiving limited-channel testing with respect to those who receive full polysomnography (PSG).

The study was performed in lieu of the rising prevalence of OSA which has increased the demand for diagnostic sleep services. That said, the interests in home-based studies have also grown due to the fact that the laboratory-based PSG is labor-extensive, time consuming, and expensive.

The authors performed the study in 7 academic sleep centers in Australia. The patients with suspected OSA are aged 25 to 80. The patients went through full laboratory-based PSG for one night and then assigned to predetermined groups, randomly, for assessment based on predefined baselines. To simulate the real-world effect of PSG replacement with home-based testing, the team of researchers utilized an intention-to-treat analysis with all 406 patients.

The research was primarily funded by the the National Health and Medical Council and Repat Foundation. The authors conclude that the "outcomes for patients managed with manually scored, multichannel respiratory information (level 3) were not clinically inferior to outcomes in those managed with full PSG data." The authors also suggest that further studies are needed to "compare clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness for sleep study testing."

Stat News reports that the result of this recent study supports the conclusion of previous researches in OSA. The American College of Physicians guidelines state that patients, on a condition that they don't have other serious illnesses, can use portable sleep monitors if laboratory-based testing is not available.

In an editorial article report from the Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors write that the study "supports the contention that a home-based diagnostic and treatment strategy leads to outcomes that are as good as laboratory-based strategy." The editorial claims that the result of the research is welcome news for health care providers and other stakeholders wanting to provide cost-effective care.

Among the positive outcomes of the study implies that the use of home-based sleep testing for OSA can help reduce the patient waiting times for testing. Also home-based testing allows patients in far-flung areas to utilize the test and expand access to underserved populations.

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