Background: Pressure release continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is an evolution of CPAP that has been reported to improve patient comfort. We hypothesised the pressure release would lead to unloading of the inspiratory muscles and therefore conducted a prospective double-blind cross-over physiological study of autotitrating CPAP (APAP) against autotitrating pressure relief CPAP (PR-APAP).
Methods: Eleven patients with severe obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA; mean AHI 74.5+/-14.4/h) were studied. We assessed neural drive by recording the oesophageal pressure, gastric pressure, transdiaphragmatic pressure and the diaphragm EMG during overnight polysomnography.
Results: Both APAP and PR-APAP significantly reduced neural respiratory drive. Transdiaphragmatic pressure swings during apnoea (30.2+/-11.5 cm H2O) before treatment decreased to 9.1+/-5.3 cm H2O for PR-APAP and 8.5+/-3.7 cm H2O for APAP. The transdiaphragmatic pressure and the diaphragm EMG did not differ significantly between APAP and PR-APAP. The gastric pressure swing at expiration phase disappeared during both APAP and PR-APAP when sleep respiratory events were eliminated.
Conclusions: PR-APAP is not superior to APAP in terms of reducing neural respiratory drive. It is unnecessary to replace conventional APAP with PR-APAP for patients who have been successfully treated with traditional APAP.