Acoustic Rhinometry in the diagnosis of sleep apnea
This summer I worked with Dr. Ignacio Tapia, Dr. Christopher Cielo, and their research team in the Sleep Lab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The Sleep Lab focuses on researching multiple aspects of pediatric sleep with a strong lean towards sleep apnea and genetic disorders.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a breathing disorder characterized by recurrent partial or complete episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep associated with gas exchange abnormality and sleep fragmentation. My research for the summer focused on the data compilation and analysis of a study comparing acoustic rhinometry (AR) measurements in pediatric patients treated with either a nasal corticosteroid (NCS) or a placebo in order to determine the validity of AR as a supplementary diagnostic tool of OSAS. Acoustic rhinometry (AR) is a non-invasive technique that measures nasal airway distances and cross-sectional areas and volumes by sending an acoustic pulse down the airway and recording the cross-sectional area at discrete distances from the device.
Through this research project, I learned how to utilize MATLAB as an initial screening tool for the reliability of the data. This software was used to visualize the data by creating the waveforms produced by the AR device and comparing the biomarkers in the graphical output of the program to anatomical structures in the nasal passageway. I also learned how Stata was used as a statistical analysis software to make conclusions from the data as well as pose follow-up questions for further research.
Through the weekly lab meetings, I was exposed to the different approaches and projects that other researchers in this lab were working on which gave me different perspectives on Sleep Medicine as a discipline. I was fascinated by how many different fields intersect in the field of Pediatric sleep medicine which is not surprising given that sleep itself is affected by many different factors! As I am majoring in Computational Biology, being able to learn how and why the data analysis of a study is conducted is a very important and essential experience.
My favorite part of the summer was being mentored by such experienced researchers by learning the inner workings and behind-the-scenes of a medical research paper. I was supported as well as taught how to work independently on parts of this project which helped me understand how clinical research is conducted. Although I was unable to go in-person to the lab at CHOP, I learned a lot about the different techniques and approaches that are necessary in a medical research project as well as explored different computer softwares used in research under the mentorship of knowledgeable advisors.