Roughly 22 million adults in the US suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a breathing condition caused by obstruction of the respiratory airway during sleep. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment has a high success rate… if the patient complies with treatment protocols. The Phillips 3D Mask Selector, introduced at CES 2021, aims to increase compliance by making it easier for providers to help patients find a mask that fits comfortably.

The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea typically occurs because the tongue collapses against the soft palate during sleep, forcing the soft palate into the airway at the back of the throat. In the long-term, sleep apnea contributes to high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and other dangerous complications.

CPAP therapy uses an airflow generator that pushes pressurized air through a hose into a special face mask worn during sleep. The pressure holds the back of the throat open for continuous airflow. Unfortunately, getting used to sleeping with a CPAP machine isn’t easy, and a poorly fitting mask makes it more challenging. This can lead to patients giving up and not using the CPAP device.

Typically, it takes multiple fittings to find the right CPAP mask. The new Mask Selector seeks to eliminate this fitting process using 3D facial scanning software. The system uses a high-definition camera to take 150 pictures of a patient’s facial geometry, gathering thousands of microdata points regarding the shape of the nose, cheeks, mouth, jaw, and chin.

Next, the system analyzes this data using an AI algorithm, which identifies 46,000 markers that most affect mask fit and comfort. The software then coordinates these markers with patient answers to a sleep preference questionnaire. It then makes a personalized recommendation for mask size, nasal cushion size, and frame size.

Initial trials showed that the Mask Selector had a 90% success rate with the first mask recommended — compared with 72% for manual fittings — and a lower average leak rate. Patient compliance over 90 days was 53% higher, and study subjects reported higher confidence about continued CPAP treatment.

A well-fitting mask may or may not help with other factors that interfere with compliance, including nasal drying, sinusitis, and other issues. But patient education and monitoring have a positive effect, and starting treatment with a comfortable mask takes away the aggravation of a drawn-out fitting process, giving patients a better chance at benefitting from CPAP therapy.