An Official American Thoracic Society Workshop Report: Noninvasive Identification of Inspiratory Flow Limitation in Sleep Studies

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Abstract

This report summarizes the proceedings of the American Thoracic Society Workshop on the Noninvasive Identification of Inspiratory Flow Limitation in Sleep Studies held on May 16, 2015, in Denver, Colorado. The goal of the workshop was to discuss methods for standardizing the scoring of flow limitation from nasal cannula pressure tracings. The workshop began with presentations on the physiology underlying flow limitation, existing methods of scoring flow limitation, the effects of signal acquisition and filtering on flow shapes, and a review of the literature examining the adverse outcomes related to flow limitation. After these presentations, the results from online scoring exercises, which were crowdsourced to workshop participants in advance of the workshop, were reviewed and discussed. Break-out sessions were then held to discuss potential algorithms for scoring flow limitation. Based on these discussions, subsequent online scoring exercises, and webinars after the workshop, a consensus-based set of recommendations for a scoring algorithm for flow limitation was developed. Key conclusions from the workshop were: (1) a standardized and automated approach to scoring flow limitation is needed to provide a metric of nonepisodic elevated upper airway resistance, which can then be related to clinical outcomes in large cohorts and patient groups; (2) at this time, the most feasible method for standardization is by proposing a consensus-based framework, which includes scoring rules, developed by experts (3) hardware and software settings of acquisition devices, including filter settings, affect the shape of the flow curve, and should be clearly specified; and (4) a priority for future research is the generation of an open-source, expert-derived training set to encourage and support validation of automated flow limitation scoring algorithms.

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