What is the abnormal oxygen saturation index for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Updated: Sep 24, 2019
  • Author: Wendy M Smith, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Oximetry measurement improves the diagnostic accuracy of sleep testing for OSA; this has been well documented. [49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54]

No universally accepted criteria are available for oxygen desaturation or abnormal oxygen desaturation index in sleep-disordered breathing. In general, patients with multiple or more pronounced desaturations are viewed as having more severe OSA.

Note, however, that the LSAT may be falsely lowered because of technical errors, such as displacement of the monitor. Conversely, the lack of oxygen desaturations does not rule out OSA. Apneas and hypopneas may occur without desaturations because of resolution of the event before desaturation occurs or due to lack of oximetry sensitivity. This is particularly true in children.

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