Staging of obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome: a guide to appropriate treatment

Laryngoscope. 2004 Mar;114(3):454-9. doi: 10.1097/00005537-200403000-00013.


Objective: Early studies by Friedman et al. have demonstrated the value of staging obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) patients for the prediction of success for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) on the basis of short-term follow up. The goal of this study is to test the value of this staging system in a prospective study.

Study design: This is a prospective study of two cohorts of patients: one was treated with the benefit of a clinical staging system and the other without.

Methods: Patients with symptoms of OSAHS were assessed by polysomnography and were staged according to a previously described staging system. The staging system is based on palate position, tonsil size, and body mass index (BMI). The control group was treated without the benefit of staging. All patients in the control group were treated with UPPP only. Patients in the experimental group were treated based on their clinical stage. Patients with stage I disease, regardless of the severity of disease, were treated with UPPP only. Selected patients with stage II and stage III disease were treated with UPPP in addition to a staged tongue-base reduction using a radiofrequency technique (TBRF).

Results: Follow-up at 6 months showed significant improvement compared with a group of patients treated without the benefit of a staging system. Successful treatment of patients with stage II disease improved from 37.9% to 74.0%. The overall success rate improved from 40% to 59.1%.

Conclusion: Clearly, patients with stage I disease had the best success rate, but a selective protocol based on clinical staging improves the overall success rate. In addition, it can eliminate as surgical candidates those patients with whom the procedure is likely to fail.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures*
  • Palate / surgery
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology
  • Pharynx / surgery
  • Polysomnography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uvula / surgery