The most reliable way to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea is to do a polygraph examination (polysomnography or cardiorespiratory sleep monitoring). However, this procedure scares many people almost as much as the possible diagnosis. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to tell you again how the study is performed, as well as to dispel the most common fears and misgivings.
What is a Polysomnography?
Polysomnography is a method of continuous recording of various physiological parameters of a patient during sleep. The study is considered the “gold standard” in the diagnosis of sleep apnea. Sensors attached to the patient’s body record various parameters of breathing, cardiac activity, motor activity and, by means of an encephalogram, the sleep process itself.
A video camera is also installed in the room to record the behavioral reactions during the night’s rest. The study is conducted under the supervision of the nurse on duty, who is in the next room and follows the course of the procedure on the computer screen.
Cardiorespiratory monitoring (respiratory and cardiorespiratory polygraphy) is a simpler study that also evaluates breathing and heart function, but sleep itself is not recorded. In terms of price/quality ratio, this option looks preferable in many cases. Perhaps the main contraindication to cardiorespiratory monitoring is a combination of likely respiratory disorders and insomnia, when an accurate assessment of the duration and quality of sleep is fundamentally necessary.
Transcription of the records obtained allows to determine the frequency and duration of respiratory stoppages, as well as to assess how they affect the functioning of the brain and heart. All this helps to make an accurate diagnosis and choose a method of treatment for snoring episodes complicated by apnea episodes.
How the Diagnostic is Performed?
In reality, the study is more reminiscent of a vacation in a sanatorium than a medical procedure. The room can be mistaken for a hotel room with a comfortable bed, and sometimes even a TV and air conditioning. If you wish, you can take a shower.
Before the procedure, sensors will be placed on your torso, head and limbs. They are attached securely and positioned so as to cause as little discomfort as possible. You can spend the time before you go to sleep in your room as you like – read, watch TV, or talk on the phone. And just before you go to bed and try to fall asleep, the medical staff will finish the last preparations and turn on the recording. In the morning, all the sensors are removed and the medical staff begins to decode the information received.
No special preparation is required before polysomnography. However, for the results to be as reliable as possible, on the day before the study you should:
- Refrain from tonic drinks (coffee, tea, Coca-Cola, tonic, energy drinks) and alcohol;
- Do not take any stimulants, tranquilizers, sedatives or hypnotics;
- Refuse to sleep during the day.
When signing up for the procedure, you will get detailed advice on what you can and cannot do before the examination, and you will be able to ask all the questions you are worried about.