Thorax 61:435-439 doi:10.1136/thx.2005.052084
  • Sleep disordered breathing

Effect of increased lung volume on sleep disordered breathing in patients with sleep apnoea

  1. R C Heinzer1,2,
  2. M L Stanchina3,
  3. A Malhotra1,
  4. A S Jordan1,
  5. S R Patel1,
  6. Y-L Lo1,4,
  7. A Wellman1,
  8. K Schory1,
  9. L Dover1,
  10. D P White1
  1. 1Sleep Medicine Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  2. 2Service de Pneumologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3Rhode Island Hospital, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI, USA
  4. 4Department of Thoracic Medicine 2, Chang Gang Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr R C Heinzer
    Service de Pneumologie, Unité de Médecine du Sommeil et des troubles respiratoires, 1011 CHUV Lausanne, Switzerland; rheinzer{at}
  • Received 24 August 2005
  • Accepted 8 February 2006
  • Published Online First 20 February 2006


Background: Previous studies have shown that changes in lung volume influence upper airway size and resistance, particularly in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), and that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) requirements decrease when the lung volume is increased. We sought to determine the effect of a constant lung volume increase on sleep disordered breathing during non-REM sleep.

Methods: Twelve subjects with OSA were studied during non-REM sleep in a rigid head-out shell equipped with a positive/negative pressure attachment for manipulation of extrathoracic pressure. The increase in lung volume due to CPAP (at a therapeutic level) was determined with four magnetometer coils placed on the chest wall and abdomen. CPAP was then stopped and the subjects were studied for 1 hour in three conditions (in random order): (1) no treatment (baseline); (2) at “CPAP lung volume”, with the increased lung volume being reproduced by negative extrathoracic pressure alone (lung volume 1, LV1); and (3) 500 ml above the CPAP lung volume(lung volume 2, LV2).

Results: The mean (SE) apnoea/hypopnoea index (AHI) for baseline, LV1, and LV2, respectively, was 62.3 (10.2), 37.2 (5.0), and 31.2 (6.7) events per hour (p = 0.009); the 3% oxygen desaturation index was 43.0 (10.1), 16.1 (5.4), and 12.3 (5.3) events per hour (p = 0.002); and the mean oxygen saturation was 95.4 (0.3)%, 96.0 (0.2)%, 96.3 (0.3)%, respectively (p = 0.001).

Conclusion: An increase in lung volume causes a substantial decrease in sleep disordered breathing in patients with OSA during non-REM sleep.


  • Funding: HL48531, HL60292, NIH/NHLBI T32 HLO07901, NIH/RR01032, Fond National Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique, Fondation SICPA, Société Académique Vaudoise.

  • Competing interests: none declared.