Urine test simplifies screening for obstructive sleep apnea
U of L researchers' findings would cut cost, stress of traditional methods of diagnosis.
A new screening technique for pediatric obstructive sleep apnea has been discovered in a most unlikely place.
Researchers at the University of Louisville recently found that a simple urine test can be used to diagnose OSA in snoring children, thus eliminating the need for costly overnight sleep studies for children whose snoring is not harmful.
"I believe it's possible to develop a diagnostic test so simple that some day it could be available for use in the home, like a home pregnancy test," U of L clinical chemist Saeed A. Jortani, Ph.D., said.
Jortani made the discovery that the urine of children with OSA contains different concentrations of stress-related proteins than children whose snoring is not related to the disease. His findings were published in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The new test will be helped by a $150,000 award from the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation to commercialize a urine test for pediatric OSA.
"An inexpensive screening test would help patients with harmless snoring save time and money by avoiding unnecessary testing," Fidaa Shaib, M.D., a U of L sleep medicine specialist and co-investigator on the study said. "Given the limited number of specialized pediatric sleep centers, this test would make it more likely that children with OSA are identified and treated expeditiously. If this test proves to be successful, pediatricians will be able to screen for OSA much as they screen for vision or hearing problems now."
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition in which a partially blocked airway causes a person to snore as they struggle to breath, and has long been associated with learning and behavior problems as well as hypertension, cardiac disease and obesity. OSA affects up to three percent of children worldwide.
Upon diagnosis, OSA's harmful effects can often be alleviated through weight management, anti-inflammatory treatment, use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines or surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids.
Clinical testing will begin later in 2010. Researchers plan to collect morning and evening urine samples of 200 patients receiving sleep studies at the U of L Pediatric Sleep Medicine Center and compare their findings with sleep study results. Meanwhile, a similar study on adults will be conducted simultaneously with the pediatric study.