Nasal cannula use during polysomnography in children aged under three with suspected sleep apnea

Sleep Med. 2022 Nov:99:41-48. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2022.07.009. Epub 2022 Jul 19.


Objective: Early diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children is important. The use of a nasal cannula as an airflow sensor during polysomnography has not been evaluated in younger children. The study aims to evaluate the use of nasal cannula in detecting respiratory events in children under three with suspected OSA during daytime nap studies.

Methods: A total of 185 patients were prospectively included. Respiratory events were scored using nasal cannula alone, thermistor alone, and both methods simultaneously as the airflow sensor. Agreement and diagnostic accuracy were assessed.

Results: One hundred and seventy-two children were finally analyzed and 110 (64.0%) presented OSA. Total sleep time with an uninterpretable signal was longer with the nasal cannula than with the thermistor (17.8% vs 1.9%; p < 0.001), and was associated with poor sensor tolerance and adenotonsillar hypertrophy. In the estimation of the apnea-hypopnea index, the nasal cannula showed lower agreement than the thermistor with the joint use of the two sensors (intraclass correlation coefficient: 0.79 vs 0.996 with thermistor). Compared with the thermistor, the nasal cannula presented lower sensitivity for detecting OSA (82.7% vs 95.5%) and a lower negative predictive value (76.5% vs 92.4%). Overall, fewer children were diagnosed with severe OSA with the nasal cannula (19.8% vs 30.8% with the thermistor, and 32.6% with both).

Conclusions: In children under the age of three, the ability of the nasal cannula to detect obstructive events was relatively low. Therefore, other non-invasive measurements for identifying respiratory events during sleep may be of additional value.

Keywords: Nasal cannula; OSA; Pediatric sleep apnea; Polysomnography; Thermistor.

MeSH terms

  • Cannula
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Polysomnography / methods
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes* / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive*