Practice parameters for the surgical modifications of the upper airway for obstructive sleep apnea in adults

R Nisha Aurora, Kenneth R Casey, David Kristo, Sanford Auerbach, Sabin R Bista, Susmita Chowdhuri, Anoop Karippot, Carin Lamm, Kannan Ramar, Rochelle Zak, Timothy I Morgenthaler
Sleep 2010, 33 (10): 1408-13

BACKGROUND: Practice parameters for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) in adults by surgical modification of the upper airway were first published in 1996 by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (formerly ASDA). The following practice parameters update the previous practice parameters. These recommendations were reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

METHODS: A systematic review of the literature was performed, and the GRADE system was used to assess the quality of evidence. The findings from this evaluation are provided in the accompanying review paper, and the subsequent recommendations have been developed from this review. The following procedures have been included: tracheostomy, maxillo-mandibular advancement (MMA), laser assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP), uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), radiofrequency ablation (RFA), and palatal implants.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The presence and severity of obstructive sleep apnea must be determined before initiating surgical therapy (Standard). The patient should be advised about potential surgical success rates and complications, the availability of alternative treatment options such as nasal positive airway pressure and oral appliances, and the levels of effectiveness and success rates of these alternative treatments (Standard). The desired outcomes of treatment include resolution of the clinical signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and the normalization of sleep quality, the apnea-hypopnea index, and oxyhemoglobin saturation levels (Standard). Tracheostomy has been shown to be an effective single intervention to treat obstructive sleep apnea. This operation should be considered only when other options do not exist, have failed, are refused, or when this operation is deemed necessary by clinical urgency (Option). MMA is indicated for surgical treatment of severe OSA in patients who cannot tolerate or who are unwilling to adhere to positive airway pressure therapy, or in whom oral appliances, which are more often appropriate in mild and moderate OSA patients, have been considered and found ineffective or undesirable (Option). UPPP as a sole procedure, with or without tonsillectomy, does not reliably normalize the AHI when treating moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Therefore, patients with severe OSA should initially be offered positive airway pressure therapy, while those with moderate OSA should initially be offered either PAP therapy or oral appliances (Option). Use of multi-level or stepwise surgery (MLS), as a combined procedure or as stepwise multiple operations, is acceptable in patients with narrowing of multiple sites in the upper airway, particularly if they have failed UPPP as a sole treatment (Option). LAUP is not routinely recommended as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (Standard). RFA can be considered as a treatment in patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea who cannot tolerate or who are unwilling to adhere to positive airway pressure therapy, or in whom oral appliances have been considered and found ineffective or undesirable (Option). Palatal implants may be effective in some patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea who cannot tolerate or who are unwilling to adhere to positive airway pressure therapy, or in whom oral appliances have been considered and found ineffective or undesirable (Option). Postoperatively, after an appropriate period of healing, patients should undergo follow-up evaluation including an objective measure of the presence and severity of sleep-disordered breathing and oxygen saturation, as well as clinical assessment for residual symptoms. Additionally, patients should be followed over time to detect the recurrence of disease (Standard).

CONCLUSIONS: While there has been significant progress made in surgical techniques for the treatment of OSA, there is a lack of rigorous data evaluating surgical modifications of the upper airway. Systematic and methodical investigations are needed to improve the quality of evidence, assess additional outcome measures, determine which populations are most likely to benefit from a particular procedure or procedures, and optimize perioperative care.

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