The importance of nasal resistance in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

J Otolaryngol. 1992 Jun;21(3):189-95.


The importance of nasal airflow resistance in the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) remains contentious. We performed formal nocturnal polysomnography (PSG) on OSAS patients under conditions of baseline and reduced nasal resistance to answer two main questions. First, to what degree does baseline nasal airflow resistance influence upper airway collapse in OSAS patients? Second, in what proportion of the OSAS population is baseline nasal resistance contributing to the pathogenesis of upper airway collapse? Our study group consisted of 10 patients with a wide range of OSAS severity. Six of these patients had symptoms and clinical evidence of chronic nasal obstruction which, in some, was associated with markedly elevated nasal resistance. A placebo (normal saline) was instilled in the nose of each patient on the night of baseline data collection. On the treatment night of the study, nasal resistance was reduced by application of topical vasoconstrictor and insertion of vestibular stents designed to dilate the area of the nasal valve. Posterior rhinomanometry was used to measure resistance to nasal airflow immediately before and after each PSG study. Although treatment was associated with a subjective improvement in sleep quality and mean drop in nasal resistance of 73% (P less than 0.001), there was no significant improvement in sleep architecture, nocturnal oxygenation, or the amount of apnea experienced by patients. The most significant improvement was a reduced number of arousals/hour from 52.4 +/- 12.4 on placebo to 43.7 +/- 10.2 on treatment (P less than 0.04).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology*
  • Airway Resistance / physiology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Obstruction / blood
  • Nasal Obstruction / complications*
  • Nasal Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Oximetry
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Respiration / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / blood
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / etiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology


  • Oxygen