Auto-titrating versus standard continuous positive airway pressure for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: results of a meta-analysis

Sleep. 2004 Mar 15;27(2):249-53. doi: 10.1093/sleep/27.2.249.


Study objective: To compare the effectiveness of auto-titrating continuous positive airway pressure (APAP) versus conventional continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in reducing the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), reducing the mean airway pressure, improving subjective sleepiness, and improving treatment adherence in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Design: Meta-analysis and metaregression of published randomized trials comparing APAP to CPAP.

Setting: N/A.

Participants: N/A.

Interventions: N/A.

Results: We identified 9 randomized trials studying a total of 282 patients. Compared to CPAP, there was no significant advantage of APAP in reducing AHI or sleepiness (pooled APAP-CPAP posttreatment AHI and Epworth Sleepiness Scale score = -0.20 events per hour, 95% confidence interval:[-0.74,0.35], and -0.56 [-1.4,0.3] respectively). The use of APAP reduced the mean applied pressure across the night by 2.2 cm water [1.9,2.5] compared to CPAP. Adherence with therapy was not substantially improved with APAP; pooled estimate of improvement was 0.20 hours per night ([-0.16,0.57], P = .28) using a random-effects model.

Conclusions: Compared to standard CPAP, APAP is associated with a reduction in mean pressure. However, APAP and standard CPAP were similar in adherence and their ability to eliminate respiratory events and to improve subjective sleepiness. Given that APAP is more costly than standard CPAP, APAP should not be considered first-line chronic therapy in all patients with OSA. However, APAP may be useful in other situations (eg, home titrations, detection of mouth leak) or in certain subgroups of patients with OSA. Identifying circumstances in which APAP is a definite improvement over CPAP in terms of costs or effects should be the focus of future studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / classification*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*