Morbidly obese patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea: is airway reconstructive surgery a viable treatment option?

K K Li, N B Powell, R W Riley, A Zonato, L Gervacio, C Guilleminault
Laryngoscope 2000, 110 (6): 982-7

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the outcomes of airway reconstructive surgery for the treatment of severe obstructive sleep apnea in the morbidly obese patient.

METHODS: Retrospective review of consecutively treated patients. Variables examined include age, sex, body mass index (BMI), respiratory disturbance index (RDI), lowest oxygen saturation (LSAT), cephalometric data, and complications.

RESULTS: Twenty-one patients (13 men) with a mean age of 42.6 +/- 7.9 years and mean BMI of 45 +/- 5.4 kg/m2 were identified. The mean RDI improved from 83 +/- 30.1 to 10.6 +/- 10.8 events per hour with an improved mean apnea index from 38.4 +/- 31.3 to 1.2 +/- 1.8 events per hour. The mean LSAT improved from 63.9 +/- 17.7% to 86 +/- 7.9%. The mean BMI at the 6-month postoperative polysomnographic recording was 43 +/- 4.3 kg/m2 (P < .001). Seventeen patients (81%) were successfully treated (RDI < 20 and with minimal desaturation < 90%). The mean follow-up was 21.8 +/- 15.4 months (range, 7-66 mo). Coexisting obesity-hypoventilation syndrome was related to treatment failure in two patients. One patient noted recurrence of daytime fatigue after significant weight gain 4 years after surgery and the polysomnographic recordings demonstrated the recurrence of obstructive sleep apnea.

CONCLUSION: Airway reconstruction is an effective treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea in the morbidly obese patient. Careful patient selection and identifying potential coexisting obesity-hypoventilation syndrome, as well as counseling on weight reduction and avoiding continual weight gain will improve treatment outcomes. Key Words: Obstructive sleep apnea, sleep-disordered breathing, obstructive sleep apnea surgery, obesity, maxillomandibular advancement.

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