Polysomnographic determinants of nocturnal hypercapnia in patients with sleep apnea.

Jaimchariyatam N, Dweik RA, Kaw R, Aboussouan LS. (2013) Polysomnographic determinants of nocturnal hypercapnia in patients with sleep apnea. J Clin Sleep Med. 15;9(3):209-15. PMID: 23493528; PMCID: PMC3578680



Identify polysomnographic and demographic factors associated with elevation of nocturnal end-tidal CO2 in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.


Forty-four adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea were selected such that the maximal nocturnal end-tidal CO2 was below 45 mm Hg in 15 studies, between 45 and 50 mm Hg in 14, and above 50 mm Hg in 15. Measurements included mean event (i.e., apneas or hypopneas) and mean inter-event duration, ratio of mean post- to mean pre-event amplitude, and percentage of total sleep time spent at an end-tidal CO2 < 45, 45-50, and > 50 mm Hg. An integrated nocturnal CO2 was calculated as the sum of the products of average end-tidal CO2 at each time interval by percent of total sleep time spent at the corresponding time interval.


The integrated nocturnal CO2 was inversely correlated with mean post-apnea duration, with lesser contributions from mean apnea duration and age (R (2) = 0.56), but did not correlate with the apnea-hypopnea index, or the body mass index. Mean post-event to mean pre-event amplitude correlated with mean post-apnea duration (r = 0.88, p < 0.001). Mean apnea duration did not correlate with mean post-apnea duration.


Nocturnal capnometry reflects pathophysiologic features of sleep apnea, such as the balance of apnea and post-apnea duration, which are not captured by the apnea-hypopnea index. This study expands the indications of capnometry beyond apnea detection and quantification of hypoventilation syndromes.


Obstructive sleep apnea, body mass index, capnography, hypercapnia, obesity hypoventilation syndrome

Link to journal: http://www.aasmnet.org/jcsm/