Monday, July 12, 2010

Different Approach to Sleep Studies May Reduce Wait Times

With the growing public awareness of obstructive sleep apnea, some clinics face an overwhelming demand for sleep studies. Some patients may have to wait months just to get diagnosed, so researchers are suggesting clinics adopt a new approach.

Typically, patients diagnosed with OSA return at a later date for a treatment-focused second sleep study. A study published in the latest issue of Sleep and Breathing suggests both procedures can be completed in a single night. This change could speed up wait times and cut costs.

The follow-up appointment is typically used to adjust CPAP. But patients who use an oral appliance for sleep apnea have different needs. They face the same bottleneck as CPAP patients because dentists are not permitted to diagnose sleep apnea. Dentists can only screen for the condition and direct their patients to a sleep center.

The study looked at adherence rates and amount of breathing pauses per night when CPAP adjustment happened in the same night compared to a month later. The results were nearly identical.

Nearly a quarter of sleep labs use same-night sleep studies. The AASM reports split-night sleep studies are an acceptable method for diagnosing and treating OSA in certain specific cases.

Dental sleep specialists may be able to treat more patients with oral appliances if an increased number of sleep centers sped up the diagnosis process by adopting split-night sleep studies.

Oral appliances are an excellent alternative for the many patients who are unable to comply with or tolerate CPAP. Oral appliances push forward the tongue and lower jaw during sleep to maintain airflow.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.