Polysomnography or a polysomnogram is a sleep study that is done in a sleep laboratory. It consists of either spending the night or a day in the laboratory in which wires are attached via electrodes to the scalp to measure brain waves. In addition to the brain waves, breathing effort is measured with belts or bands that are secured around the chest and waist. A nasal cannula, a plastic tube that normally is used to deliver oxygen, is placed in the nose to measure breathing and airflow. A pulse oximeter is placed on the finger to measure oxygen levels, and wires are also attached to the legs and occasionally the arms to measure movements.
The polysomnogram is the “gold standard” for diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. Trained sleep technologists attach the equipment and monitors to a patient’s body, and then they observe the patient sleeping. Periodically, patients may require treatment in the lab, and the technologists are capable of instituting the appropriate therapy. Part of the monitoring involves watching the patient sleep by way of a “night vision” camera that allows the technologist to observe for abnormal movements and behaviors during the testing period.
Dr. Carl D. Boethel, Director of the Scott & White Sleep Institute, also serves as Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine with the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Dr. Boethel's patient care emphasis is Asthma, COPD, Diagnostic Sleep Evaluation (Formal Polysomnography), Fatigue, Intensive Care Services, Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Restless Leg Syndrome, Sleep Apnea, and Smoking Related Diseases.