Traditional sleep studies use a variety of leads and probes on the patient's upper and lower face to gather data. In a new method, called thermal infrared imaging (TIRI), the two most obtrusive probes under the nose, the thermistor and nasal pressure probe, are no longer needed. Data is collected from a distance by a thermal camera. As the patient breathes in, cooler atmospheric air is brought into his or her nostrils, creating a unique thermal signature for inhale. On exhale, the air expelled from the lungs is warmer. TIRI not only makes it more comfortable for the patient to sleep during the study, but it gathers much more data from an array of points across the patient's lower face. The traditionally used thermistor only yields information about a specific point.
Credit: Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation; All images in blue band at the bottom (traditional output, Thermal Infrared Imaging output, and thermal camera and computer set-up) courtesy of Computational Physiology Lab, University of Houston.