Non-Invasive Way of Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

SYDNEY – Researchers are now able to screen obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with the help of recording devices, eliminating overnight stays in an expensive, specialist facility.

Led by Udantha Abeyratne from the University of Queensland School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, the researchers have developed a non-invasive way of diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea.

Caused by the collapse of the upper air passage during sleep, OSA is one of the most common sleep disorders affecting approximately 800,000 people in Australia alone.

Common symptoms include snoring, waking suddenly and daytime sleepiness. If left untreated, it can lead to stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. OSA has snoring as the earliest symptom; almost all patients snore, Abeyratne said.

We have developed several techniques to diagnose OSA using snoring sounds alone. Sounds are acquired through non-contact recording devices, and features are extracted. At present we are capable of screening OSA with 90 percent accuracy,” said Abeyratne.

These results are unmatched in the world in terms of the non-invasiveness and performance, and unequivocally illustrate the viability of a snore-based, non-contact OSA screening device.

OSA is currently diagnosed using polysomnography (PSG), which requires a full-night lab stay in a specifically equipped sleep suite, connected to more than 15 sensors, said a Queensland release.

Craig Hukins, director of the Sleep Lab at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and co-investigator of the project, said: PSG is inconvenient, expensive and is not suitable for mass screening of the population, especially children.

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