, Volume 48, Issue 11, pp 1087-1097
Date: 24 Aug 2010

Sleep apnea monitoring and diagnosis based on pulse oximetery and tracheal sound signals

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Sleep apnea is a common respiratory disorder during sleep, which is described as a cessation of airflow to the lungs that lasts at least for 10 s and is associated with at least 4% drop in blood’s oxygen saturation level (SaO2). The current gold standard method for sleep apnea assessment is full-night polysomnography (PSG). However, its high cost, inconvenience for patients, and immobility have persuaded researchers to seek simple and portable devices to detect sleep apnea. In this article, we report on developing a new method for sleep apnea detection and monitoring, which only requires two data channels: tracheal breathing sounds and the pulse oximetery (SaO2 signal). It includes an automated method that uses the energy of breathing sounds signals to segment the signals into sound and silent segments. Then, the sound segments are classified into breath, snore, and noise segments. The SaO2 signal is analyzed automatically to find its rises and drops. Finally, a weighted average of different features extracted from breath segments, snore segments and SaO2 signal are used to detect apnea and hypopnea events. The performance of the proposed approach was evaluated on the data of 66 patients recorded simultaneously with their full-night PSG study, and the results were compared with those of the PSG. The results show high correlation (0.96, P < 0.0001) between the outcomes of our system and those of the PSG. Also, the proposed method has been found to have sensitivity and specificity values of more than 91% in differentiating simple snorers from obstructive sleep apnea patients.