We examined the effects of high-frequency (30-Hz) low-pressure oscillations on respiration in nine patients with central sleep apnea. All patients were studied during sleep and wore a nasal mask through which the oscillations were applied. All tests were performed during periods of repetitive central apneas. Respiratory efforts were monitored from the airflow and calibrated Respitrace signals. After several cycles of apnea were monitored, the oscillatory pressures were applied for brief periods (less than 5 s) at the midpoint of the central apneas. All trials in which arousal occurred were discarded, leaving a total of 106 trials in the nine patients. High-frequency oscillation of the upper airway stimulated respiratory effort(s) in 68% of all trials (72 of 106). Apnea length was significantly shortened in four of the nine patients. In one patient with a tracheostomy, the stimulus applied to his isolated upper airway evoked respiratory efforts during central apnea in 13 of 15 trials. We conclude that high-frequency oscillatory pressures applied to the upper airway can stimulate respiratory efforts during central apnea. This response may be mediated by upper airway receptors involved in nonrespiratory airway defense reflexes and may have implications in the treatment of patients with central sleep apnea.
- Copyright © 1992 the American Physiological Society