Morphological examination of upper airway in obstructive sleep apnea

Auris Nasus Larynx. 2009 Aug;36(4):444-9. doi: 10.1016/j.anl.2008.11.003. Epub 2008 Dec 20.


Objectives: An aim of this study was to assess the predictive power of an otorhinolaryngological examination of the upper airway to identify risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) in the patients.

Methods: We examined 141 consecutive patients with OSAS. The morphological features were assessed by the designated otorhinolaryngologist while the subjects were sitting relaxedly with tidal breathing. The bilateral nasal resistance was measured using the active anterior rhinomanometry during daytime wakefulness.

Results: The body mass index (BMI), fauces's narrowness, neck circumference, lowest oxygen saturation, tonsil size and modified Mallampati grade (MMP) showed the statistically significant correlations with the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of an index of apnoeseverity, however, the age, Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS), nasal resistance and retroglossal space were not significantly associated with the AHI.

Conclusions: The upper airway morphology significantly associated with AHI are fauces's narrowness, tonsil size, and MMP, but not nasal resistance and retroglossal space.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Apnea / physiopathology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Otolaryngology / methods
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology
  • Polysomnography
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Respiratory System / pathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / pathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sleep Stages
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen