Can lithotripsy cause sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Staten Island, New York on 04/17/2012.
In 2010 I had lithotripsy for kidney stones. After procedure I was admitted into cardiac unit because I ended up with an SVT. Since that time I had to have a cardiac ablation to correct the problem. I had no heart issues prior to lithotripsy. Since this time I have developed sleep issues. Could the heart issues caused by the lithotripsy cause my sleep disturbances? I went for a sleep study but was only able to sleep for an hour because it was very noisy (I could hear others snoring, loud TVs, etc). I was told that I stopped breathing "38" times in the hour that I did sleep. I would like to go for another sleep study in a more suitable environment to get more detailed info.

Doctors Answers (3)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 4/19/2012

No, I can't quite see a link between the lithotripsy and your sleep problems. If you do have sleep apneas as frequent as 38/hour then this could have an adverse affect on your heart in several ways. Another attended study to monitor your heart rate and rhythm, as well as to characterize the severity of your sleep disordered breathing over the entire night, would be of benefit to you.

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 4/17/2012

Lithotripsy is not known to cause sleep apnea. It sounds like a coincidence, perhaps the stress of lithotripsy in a person with untreated sleep apnea triggering SVT. In all likelihood, your sleep apnea is contributing to your heart problem. Sleep apnea is directly associated with rhythm problems of the heart. It is best you get that treated. If you were not happy with the sleep lab you went initially, mention your concerns before re-schedling for a titration study. If they can't arrange for it, then consider another sleep testing facility. It is important that your sleep apnea gets treated.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 4/17/2012

I have never heard of lithotripsy causing sleep apnea. However, many procedures which require sedation or anesthesia often result in respiratory depression and sleep apnea is for the first time witnessed by a nurse or attendant. The SVT event likely represented an undetected cardiac abnormality caused or aggravated by the sleep apnea which was also brought to light following the lithotripsy (or any other procedure). Of course, having renal stones raises the question of other medical conditions which should be explored. So, if your respirations were suppressed and your underlying sleep apnea surfaced, this may have triggered your cardiac problems. Yes, you need another sleep study to do a CPAP titration study. It would be helpful to have a full night diagnostic study first to look at sleep patterns (architecture), limb movements, cardiac rhythms, etc. but now that you know you have sleep apnea the next step is treatment.