Inspiratory airflow dynamics during sleep in irritable bowel syndrome: a pilot study

Author(s): Gold AR, Broderick JE, Amin MM, Gold MS


Purpose: This study is a preliminary test of the hypothesis that the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) derives from pharyngeal collapse during sleep.

Materials and methods: We studied inspiratory airflow dynamics during sleep in 12 lean females with IBS and 12 healthy female controls matched for age and obesity. A standard clinical polysomnogram (airflow measured with a nasal/oral pressure catheter) was performed to assess the impact of pharyngeal collapse on the participants' natural sleep. A second polysomnogram with a pneumotachograph and a supraglottic pressure catheter to measure airflow and effort was performed to compare the maximal inspiratory airflow and effort and the prevalence of inspiratory airflow limitation (IFL) during supine stage 2 sleep between groups.

Results: During clinical polysomnography, IBS participants did not differ significantly from controls in sleep architecture or respiration. The difference in apnea-hypopnea index between IBS participants and controls, however, approached statistical significance (2.8 +/- 2.7 vs 1.1 +/- 1.5, respectively; p = 0.079). Although nine of the 12 IBS participants had a prevalence of IFL of at least 33% during supine stage 2 sleep, they did not differ from controls in maximal inspiratory airflow, inspiratory effort, or the prevalence of IFL. Controls, however, differed from IBS participants in having their prevalence of IFL during stage 2 sleep positively correlated with age (r = 0.86; p = 0.0003) while IBS participants demonstrated no relationship between the prevalence of IFL and age.

Conclusions: Our findings, while less than definitive, suggest a prevalence pattern of pharyngeal collapse during sleep among females with IBS that differs from that of healthy females, providing necessary background to inform further work on the relationship of pharyngeal collapse during sleep to IBS.

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