The specialist facilities enable the team at Royal Brompton Centre for Sleep to diagnose sleep disorders in patients with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), cystic fibrosis, curvature of the spine and neuromuscular disorders (e.g. muscular dystrophy and motor neurone disease).
Many patients with these conditions develop under-breathing during sleep, which is associated with high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood (nocturnal hypoventilation). At Royal Brompton Hospital, we pioneered the use of non-invasive ventilation in adults and children with nocturnal hypoventilation, and have over 1,600 adults and children using small portable ventilators at home.
Even in common disorders such as COPD, non-invasive ventilation can be used to improve the outcome from acute infections. One of our patients is a travel writer who has travelled the length of India with his small portable ventilator; another has spent time studying mountain ranges and climatology in Ecuador.
Many muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy patients are students away at college. Several of our patients have recently had babies despite using ventilators at home – so much is possible! We are currently exploring new types of ventilator which may be easier to use for patients with problems such as motor neurone disease.
This therapy has revolutionised the outcome in these conditions by considerably extending life expectancy and quality of life for these patients.