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Volume 13 No. 08
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Change in End-Expiratory Lung Volume During Sleep in Patients at Risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Patrick Koo, MD, ScM; Eric J. Gartman, MD; Jigme M. Sethi, MD; Eyad Kawar, MD; F. Dennis McCool, MD
Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Study Objectives:

As lung volume decreases radial traction on the upper airway is reduced, making it more collapsible. The purpose of this study was to measure change in end-expiratory lung volume (EELV) following sleep onset and to evaluate the relationship between change in EELV and sleep-disordered breathing.


Twenty subjects underwent overnight polysomnography, of whom 14 (70%) had obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Change in EELV was measured throughout the night using magnetometry. Sleep was staged and respiratory events scored using American Academy of Sleep Medicine criteria. An additional 10 subjects had change in EELV measured simultaneously by magnetometer and spirometer while awake.


In the subjects studied while awake, change in EELV calculated from magnetometer data correlated very strongly (r = 0.89, P < .001) with that obtained by spirometry. In the 20 subjects who underwent polysomnography, there was a decline in EELV for sleep stages N1, N2, N3, and R (REM sleep); 17.9 ± 121.0 mL (mean ± standard deviation), 228.5 ± 151.8 mL, 198.1 ± 122.1 mL, and 316.7 ± 131.9 mL, respectively. Mean EELV reduction during stage R sleep doubled that noted during non-stage R sleep (316.7 ± 131.9 mL versus 150.9 ± 89.7 mL, respectively) (P < .001). The difference in EELV between non-stage R and stage R sleep inversely correlated with mean oxygen saturation (r = −0.56, P = .06). EELV reduction in individuals with moderate and severe OSA was greater than in those with mild SDB but did not reach statistical significance.


Magnetometry provides a precise, unobtrusive, and continuous means to study lung volume changes during sleep. EELV declines from sleep onset, reaching its nadir during stage R sleep. The reduction in EELV in stage R sleep was associated with lower mean oxygen saturation but was not associated with greater sleep-disordered breathing.


Koo P, Gartman EJ, Sethi JM, Kawar E, McCool FD. Change in end-expiratory lung volume during sleep in patients at risk for obstructive sleep apnea. J Clin Sleep Med. 2017;13(8):941–947.

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