Portable diagnostic devices for identifying obstructive sleep apnea among commercial motor vehicle drivers: considerations and unanswered questions

Sleep. 2012 Nov 1;35(11):1481-9. doi: 10.5665/sleep.2194.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a syndrome defined by breathing abnormalities during sleep, can lead to fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) with an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. Identifying commercial motor vehicle operators with unrecognized OSA is a major public health priority. Portable monitors (PMs) are being actively marketed to trucking firms as potentially lower-cost and more accessible alternatives to the reference standard of in-laboratory polysomnography (PSG) in the diagnosis of OSA among commercial motor vehicle operators. Several factors regarding PMs remain uncertain in this unique patient population: their sensitivity and specificity; the cost-benefit ratio of the PMs versus PSG; potential barriers from human factors; and evolving technologic advancement. Human factors that alter test accuracy are a major concern among commercial drivers motivated to gain/maintain employment. Current available data using PMs as a diagnostic tool among CMV operators indicate relatively high data loss and high loss to follow-up. Loss to follow-up has also been an issue using PSG in commercial motor vehicle operators. Furthermore, PM testing and PM results interpretation protocols may have no sleep specialist oversight, and sometimes minimal physician oversight and involvement. Additional studies comparing unattended and unmonitored PMs directly against full in-laboratory PSG are needed to provide evidence for their efficacy among commercial motor vehicle operators.

Keywords: CMV operators; Obstructive sleep apnea; diagnostic methodology; portable monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Automobile Driving*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Humans
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Polysomnography / instrumentation*
  • Polysomnography / methods*
  • Polysomnography / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*