Objectives/hypothesis: To estimate the effectiveness of nasal surgery on the occurrence of sleep apnea, and to analyze the pharyngeal morphology of apnea patients whose sleep-disordered breathing was ameliorated postoperatively.
Study design: Prospective study.
Methods: Thirty-five consecutive patients with apnea and nasal obstruction underwent polysomnography and a morphological examination of the upper airway before and after nasal surgery, which included septoplasty, inferior turbinectomy, and/or functional endoscopic sinus surgery.
Results: Sleep apnea was significantly ameliorated in only eight patients. The postoperative reduction in the apnea-hypopnea index tended to be lower in those with a low-positioned soft palate, reflected in an elevated modified Mallampati score, and a narrow retroglossal space. Neither swollen tonsils nor narrow fauces affected the surgical outcome. Regression analysis showed that the modified Mallampati score (P < .05) and the retroglossal space (P < .05) were significant predictors of postoperative improvement in the apnea-hypopnea index.
Conclusions: Among sleep apnea patients suffering from nasal obstruction, nasal surgery is effective in those with a high-positioned soft palate and/or a wide retroglossal space.