Braebon Medical Corp Founder Don C. Bradley has created several sleep diagnostic products, and he always starts with a fundamental question: Is what you see on the screen an accurate reflection of what is physiologically going on? If you can’t trust your equipment, says Bradley, you have a fundamental problem.
Sensors are the primary technology for obtaining signals and they must accurately reflect the physiological event being measured. When sensors are plugged into a PSG system, some technicians are simply hoping the filters and sampling rates are set right and that the sensor is working.
There are many technologies and methods for measuring airflow: pressure sensors; thermal sensors; and esophageal balloons to name three. Whatever the method, Bradley contends that quality matters. “I could go out and buy the cheapest pressure sensor, and then I could buy a more expensive one,” says Bradley. “If you put a cannula on the patient and feed it simultaneously to both pressure sensors, you will see two totally different signals—yet people think if it is a pressure sensor, they are measuring accurately.”
In fact, the signal from the lower quality unit will be heavily filtered, as well as baseline shifted, leading to inferior and possibly inaccurate information—which in turn can lead to a poor diagnosis. On the other hand, more expensive sensors may yield a more realistic representation, but require more initial effort to set up on the PSG system. “This isn’t necessarily always the case,” cautions Bradley. “It just goes to show that you need to understand the technology being used and see if you are getting the signals you want.”
Inaccurate data collection during the sleep study causes a domino effect that wastes time. Manufacturers can halt this chain reaction through renewed efforts to educate technicians about what is really going on with their devices.
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