The challenges in scoring hypopneas in children: is pulse wave amplitude drop the answer?

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DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2021.02.049


BACKGROUND: Identifying electroencephalogram (EEG) cortical arousals are crucial in scoring hypopneas and respiratory efforts related arousals (RERAs) during a polysomnogram. As children have high arousal threshold, many of the flow limited breaths or hypopneas may not be associated with visual EEG arousals, hence this may lead to potential underestimation of the degree of sleep disordered breathing. Pulse wave amplitude (PWA) is a signal obtained from finger photoplethysmography which correlates directly to finger blood flow. The drop in PWA has been shown to be a sensitive marker for subcortical/autonomic and cortical arousals. Our aim was to use the drop in PWA as a surrogate for arousals to guide scoring of respiratory events in pediatric patients.

METHODS: Ten polysomnograms for patients between the ages of 5-15 years who had obstructive apnea-hypopnea indices between 1 and 5 events/hour were identified. Patients with syndromes were excluded. A drop in PWA signal of at least 30% that lasted for 3 s was needed to identify subcortical/autonomic arousals. Arousals were rescored based on this criteria and subsequently respiratory events were rescored. Paired t-tests were employed to compare PSG indices scored with or without PWA incorporation.

RESULTS: The sample of 10 children included 2 females, and the average age was 9.8 ± 3.1 years. Overall, polysomnography revealed an average total sleep time of 464.1 ± 25 min, sleep efficiency of 92% +/-4.2, sleep latency of 19.6 ± 17.0 min, rapid eye movement (REM) latency 143 ± 66 min, N1 3.9% +/-2.0, N2 50.3% +/-12.0, N3 28.2% +/-9.1, REM 16.7% +/-4.0, and wakefulness after sleep onset (WASO) 18.1 ± 7.5 min. Including arousals from PWA changes, respiratory indices significantly increased including total AHI (2.3 ± 0.7 vs 5.7 ± 2.1, p < 0.001), obstructive AHI (1.45 ± 0.7 vs 4.8 ± 1.8, p < 0.001), and RDI (2.36 ± 0.7 vs 7.6 ± 2.0, p < 0.001). Likewise, total arousal index was significantly higher (8.7 ± 2.3 vs 29.4 ± 6.5, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The drop in pulse wave amplitude signal is a useful marker to guide scoring arousals that are not otherwise easily identified in pediatric polysomnography and subsequently helped in scoring respiratory events that otherwise would not be scored. Further studies are needed to delineate if such methodology would affect clinical outcome.

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Sleep medicine



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Arousals; Autonomic; Obstructive sleep apnea; Pediatric polysomnogram; Pulse wave amplitude; Subcortical

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