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Volume 14 No. 12
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Oximetry as an Accurate Tool for Identifying Moderate to Severe Sleep Apnea in Patients With Acute Stroke

Shih Hao Lin, MD1; Chantale Branson, MD1; Lisa Park, BS2; Jamie Leung, BS2; Nirmita Doshi, BS2; Sanford H. Auerbach, MD1
1Department of Neurology, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; 2Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts

Study Objectives:

Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is highly prevalent in patients with acute stroke. SDB is often underdiagnosed and associated with neurological deterioration and stroke recurrence. Polysomnography or home sleep apnea testing (HSAT) is typically used as the diagnostic modality; however, it may not be feasible to use regularly in patients with acute stroke. We investigated the predictive performance of pulse oximetry, a simpler alternative, to identify SDB.


The records of 254 patients, who were admitted to Boston Medical Center for acute stroke and underwent HSAT, were retrospectively reviewed. Oxygen desaturation index (ODI) from pulse oximetry channel were compared to respiratory event index (REI) obtained from HSAT devices. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) of ODI were calculated, and different ODI cutoff values to predict SDB were proposed.


ODI had a strong correlation (r = .902) and agreement with REI. ODI was accurate in predicting SDB at different REI thresholds (REI ≥ 5, REI ≥ 15, and REI ≥ 30 events/h) with the area under the curve (AUC) of .965, .974, and .951, respectively. An ODI ≥ 5 events/h rules in the presence of SDB (specificity 91.7%, PPV 96.3%). An ODI ≥ 15 events/h rules in moderate to severe SDB (specificity 96.4%, PPV 95%) and an ODI < 5 events/h rules out moderate to severe SDB (sensitivity 100%, NPV 100%).


Nocturnal pulse oximetry has a high diagnostic accuracy in predicting moderate to severe SDB in patients with acute stroke. Oximetry can be a simple modality to rapidly recognize patients with more severe SDB and facilitate the referral to the confirmation sleep study.


Lin SH, Branson C, Park L, Leung J, Doshi N, Auerbach SH. Oximetry as an accurate tool for identifying moderate to severe sleep apnea in patients with acute stroke.J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(12):2065–2073.

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