Home sleep apnea test: Peripheral arterial tonometry


Sleep Medicine Network

Respiratory-related Sleep Disorders Section

Home sleep apnea test: Peripheral arterial tonometry

OSA is associated with serious health consequences and increased health care utilization (Kapur V, et al. Sleep. 1999:22[6]:749).

Polysomnography (PSG) is the gold standard for diagnosis, but is expensive, cumbersome, and inconsistently accessible. Home sleep apnea test (HSAT) devices provide a cost effective, convenient method to diagnose OSA and are non-inferior to PSG when considering treatment outcomes in uncomplicated adults with suggestive symptoms (Kapur VK, et al. J Clin Sleep Med. 2017;13[3]:479; Skomro RP, et al. Chest. 2010;138[2]:257).

Utilization of HSAT devices has increased in recent years, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and limitations in insurance reimbursement for PSG as the initial diagnostic test. But while there are benefits to home testing with respect to convenience and increased access, we must take the clinical context into account.

Peripheral arterial tonometry (PAT) is a commonly used HSAT technology, which measures peripheral arterial vascular tone using plethysmography at the fingertip. It has a sensitivity of 80% and specificity of 83% for detecting OSA in patients without significant comorbidities and high pretest probability of OSA compared to PSG (Ward KL, et al. J Clin Sleep Med. 2015;11[4]:433). But PAT has also been criticized for lacking diagnostic accuracy, particularly when including patients with mild OSA in analysis (Ichikawa M, et al. J Sleep Res. 2022;31[6]:e13682).

HSAT devices using PAT technology have been studied in patients with atrial fibrillation (Tauman R, et al. Nat Sci Sleep. 2020;12:1115), adolescents (Choi JH, et al. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14[10]:1741), and pregnant women (O’Brien LM, et al. J Clin Sleep Med. 2012;8[3]:287), and to assess OSA treatment adequacy with varying sensitivity and specificity. Study in special populations may allow for increased access to testing with the benefit of increased recognition of a generally underdiagnosed disorder. But it’s important to use HSAT alongside awareness of its limitations and it should not replace good clinical judgment when making treatment decisions.

Dimple Tejwani, MD


Kara Dupuy-McCauley, MD


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