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Sleep Lab

The Pediatric Sleep Laboratory at CHEOA kid sleeping

To sleep, perchance to dream. Sleep plays an essential role in a child's health and well-being, which is why the Sleep Laboratory at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is committed to helping children with a variety of sleep-related breathing problems achieve optimum health.

As a diagnostic and therapeutic clinic, the pediatric sleep lab investigates and treats some of the following conditions:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Nocturnal hypoventilation
  • Assistive Respiratory Technologies (Oxygen/CPAP/bilevel/ventilators)
  • Neurologicaland behavioral sleep disorders

The CHEO sleep laboratory is one of only 5 pediatric sleep laboratories in Canada. They are located in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. As the only pediatric sleep lab in the region, the CHEO lab serves all the children in the CHEO catchment area, including western Ontario, eastern Quebec and Nunavut.

The CHEO sleep laboratory is a multi-disciplinary clinic that offers the distinct opportunity to assess and treat a child’s sleep disorders using specific pediatric criteria, as well as the opportunity for consultations with the extensive pediatric subspecialty staff at CHEO. During their stay at the sleep lab, a patient’s breathing will be monitored as will his sleep stage, movement, heart rate and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Children and youth have different medical needs than adults do, which explains why pediatric sleep laboratories distinguish themselves from adult sleep labs on many levels. The criteria for assessing children's sleep disorders differ from those used to diagnose adults, as do the type of diagnosis. And dealing with a patient population that varies from birth to 18 years of age requires a lot of adaptability and experience in working in a medical setting with this population. Much time is invested in calming the fears of a nervous child - or parent – in explaining how the equipment works and what one can expect. And, naturally, all this is done is a calm, child-friendly manner. In adult sleep labs one technician may supervise 4 patients, whereas in a pediatric setting, you need a technician for two children or one per child, in complex cases.

But one thing remains the same. Like adults, kids and youth will need to be kept overnight for monitoring. For this special sleepover, a parent can stay in the room with the child who is allowed to bring a special blanket, a favorite stuffed animal or book – anything to help them spend the night in an unfamiliar setting. Save for a small box, the rest of the equipment is kept out of the room, so as not to distract the child or hinder his sleep, because after all, at CHEO, we always try to make it as easy on the kids as we can.

Solutions to the sleep disorders seen in children range from tweaking a child's sleep schedule, to procedures such adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy, or even to the application of positive airway pressure (with continuous (CPAP) or bi-level positive airway pressure), to referrals to the mental health team. Whatever the need, CHEO will help ensure that your child can benefit from the positive effects of a restorative slumber.

Centre Highlights

  • The team: Experienced pediatric clinicians, including 2 respirologists, a neurologist, 3 full-time respiratory technologists, respiratory therapists and a nurse. And direct access to any of CHEO’s subspecialties.
  • The lab: Four brand-new sleep rooms each equipped with state of the art technology, which include video and infrared monitoring equipment to allow patient observation.
  • Soundproof rooms designed with children in mind that include a bed for the patient, a pull-out bed for parents, and a television set. The objective is to make the room appear like a bedroom in a home setting.
  • Test data is collected and events are analyzed by experienced technologists and interpreted by respirologists.
  • As of spring 2011, the sleep lab offers a much more serene environment. The colors chosen for the décor are soothing and child-friendly.
  • With 2 respirologists on the team, the lab went from seeing 4 patients a month to 4 a week, and now to 4 a night. And the wait time went from 3 years down to 6 to 12 months.
  • The CHEO sleep laboratory also does research. They are currently leading in a national study funded to observe obese youth with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to assess their blood sugar, blood pressure and quality of life.

The sleep lab is open to the following types of patients

  • OSAS
  • Nocturnal hypoventilation
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Genetic syndromes/craniofacial anomalies
  • Oxygen/CPAP/bilevel/ventilator dependent
  • Neurological disorders
  • Obesity
  • Asthma/chronic lung disease
  • Diaphragm paresis
  • Pre /post-operative ENT

How to Make an Appointment

A referral by a primary care physician is required to be seen at the sleep lab.

Mail or fax the referral form to:
Clinic C-9
Sleep Disorders Centre, CHEO
401 Smyth Road
Ottawa, ON K1H 8L1
Fax: 613-738-4865

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