Thermal infrared imaging: a novel method to monitor airflow during polysomnography

Sleep. 2009 Nov;32(11):1521-7. doi: 10.1093/sleep/32.11.1521.


Study objectives: This is a feasibility study designed to evaluate the accuracy of thermal infrared imaging (TIRI) as a noncontact method to monitor airflow during polysomnography and to ascertain the chance-corrected agreement (K) between TIRI and conventional airflow channels (nasal pressure [Pn], oronasal thermistor and expired CO2 [P(E)CO2]) in the detection of apnea and hypopnea.

Design: Subjects were recruited to undergo polysomnography for 1 to 2 hours, during which simultaneous recordings from electroencephalography, electrooculography, electromyography, respiratory impedance plethysmography, conventional airflow channels, and TIRI were obtained.

Setting: University-affiliated, American Academy of Sleep Medicine-accredited sleep disorders center.

Patients or participants: Fourteen volunteers without a history of sleep disordered breathing and 13 patients with a history of obstructive sleep apnea were recruited.

Measurements and results: In the detection of apnea and hypopnea, excellent agreement was noted between TIRI and thermistor (kappa = 0.92, Bayesian Credible Interval [BCI] 0.86, 0.96; pkappa = 0.99). Good agreement was noted between TIRI and Pn (kappa = 0.83, BCI 0.70, 0.90; pkappa = 0.98) and between TIRI and P(E)CO2 (kappa = 0.80, BCI 0.66, 0.89; pkappa = 0.94).

Conclusions: TIRI is a feasible noncontact technology to monitor airflow during polysomnography. In its current methodologic incarnation, it demonstrates a high degree of chance-corrected agreement with the oronasal thermistor in the detection of apnea and hypopneas but demonstrates a lesser degree of chance-corrected agreement with Pn. Further overnight validation studies must be performed to evaluate its potential in clinical sleep medicine.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Airway Resistance / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Cavity
  • Polysomnography*
  • Pulmonary Ventilation / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Thermography / methods*
  • Young Adult