The Utility of the Elbow Sign in the Diagnosis of OSA

Is this the future of triaging patients for potential OSA? This has been a long-standing process by partners of people who snore or in some cases stop breathing. Who knew we were helping to lead a medical advancement? All I was trying to do was get a good night’s sleep.

A small clinical observation reported by co-author Mark Fenton, MD, of the University of Saskatchewan reported that among patients with partners a repeated statement made by partners was the need to poke or elbow patients who snore loudly or stop breathing to help restore regular breathing. This led to Fenton’s team developing a questionnaire that consists of just two questions: 1) Do you get elbowed for snoring too loudly? and/or 2) Do you get poked/elbowed because you stop breathing?

Fenton states that “The questionnaire would be easy to incorporate into a clinical history and use in the diagnosis of OSA.” Since this study was only done in one center a more thorough case study would need to be completed to form a true result validating practical use of the questions in diagnosing OSA.

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