Some of the most common questions sleep specialists get asked by patients are: What is the difference between an at-home sleep study and one done at a sleep center? Which is better? Which is more affordable? Which is best for diagnosing my disorder?
At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, we want to make sure that our current and future patients have the best up-to-date information available. For this reason, we have set out to give you all the information that you need in choosing which study can best help diagnose (or rule out) a sleep disorder.
One of the most common sleep disorders that a sleep specialist can diagnose is known as moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If you have been experiencing the symptoms associated with sleep apnea, you may be a good candidate for a home sleep test (HST).
A home sleep test (HST) is a diagnostic test and tool conducted in the patient’s home, and used to confirm if they have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A home sleep test is also known as a home sleep study, home sleep apnea test, portable monitoring, and unattended sleep test. A sleep physician will recommend a HST only if it is believed that the patient’s chances of having sleep apnea are high. People can have moderate to severe sleep apnea.
Due to the potential for misdiagnosis, HSTs are only preformed for those who pretty much have this breathing disorder. If a patient has mild to low or moderate sleep apnea, other tests may falsely conclude that the patient doesn’t have sleep apnea, or conclude that the patient’s sleep apnea is not as prevalent as it really is. This obviously is extremely dangerous, and therefore, other tests will only be performed if need be.
Home Sleep Tests are exactly what the name signifies: instead of going into a sleep lab, home sleep tests are done from the comfort of a person’s own home.
For a home sleep test, the patients usually come into the sleep clinic the day of the test to pick up their HST, and is given a demonstration on how to use the HST machine, called ApneaLink™ Air Home Sleep Testing Device (usually the size of a cellphone), properly before taking the equipment home for the test, so they know exactly what to do. Education on how to do the test will ensure the patient receives an accurate diagnosis. The following sensors are placed on the body during an HST for proper monitoring:
- Nasal and Oral Airflow: A thin wire is taped to the nose and mouth, this sensor provides oxygen, like in a hospital (oxygen cannula), and measures nasal airflow.
- Respiratory Effort: Elastic belt bands are placed across the chest and abdomen, to measure someone’s respiratory effort, meaning how hard or soft you are breathing, among other things.
- Oximeter Finger Probe: A small plastic clip-like device is put on the tip of your finger, which lights up red, responsible for measuring and evaluating oxygen levels in the blood while sleeping.
Testing is performed by the patient for one to three days, or depending on what the doctor suggests. The data is stored on the equipment, and is then uploaded the following day at the sleep clinic. The data is reviewed, and then the results are discussed with the patient.
Whenever possible, we also offer on-site sleep studies, with equipment that will report information that allows your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. Whether your sleep study takes place at home or in our state-of-the-art sleep center, one of our providers will meet with you afterwards to go over your results and make a recommendation for treatment.
Don’t wait another day to take the first step in treating a dangerous sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Call us at 8154777350 or request an appointment online today.