After a sleep study (polysomnograph or home sleep test) has been performed on a patient, the 8 – 24 hours of data needs to be processed in order for it to be clinically useful. This usually means that the sleep study data will be reviewed by a sleep technologist (RPSGT or RST) and a sleep physician.
During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, this data was collected on stacks of paper that were covered in ink scribbles. Today, everything is digital and can be stored in a file on a computer.
The data that is collected includes electroencephalogram for brain waves (EEG), electrooculogram for eye movements (EOG), electromyogram for muscle activity (EMG), electrocardiogram – for heart (EKG), snore sounds, airflow, respiratory effort movements, and oxygenation from an oxymetry probe on a finger. Often audio and video is collected as well.
After this data is collected on a patient, the data is reviewed page-by-page by a technologist who will score, or tabulate, all of this data into organized packets of clinical information.
After sleep study scoring is completed by the sleep tech, it will be sent to a sleep physician who will re-review this data and scored tech report and issue an interpretation of the sleep study, and often recommendations.
The sleep physician’s report will then be sent back to the referring clinician who will present the findings to the patient. Treatment options are often discussed by the primary physician or sleep doctor.
For sleep apnea tests, one of the most important pieces of information is the Apnea Hypopnea Index or AHI. This represents the amount of times that a person stops breathing, or almost stops breathing per hour. How to Interpret Sleep Study Results.
There are a few professional sleep physician and technologist services that specialize in the interpretation and sleep scoring of sleep studies like Sleep Physician Services and Sleep Study Scoring Services.
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