Effects of surgical weight loss on measures of obstructive sleep apnea: a meta-analysis

Am J Med. 2009 Jun;122(6):535-42. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2008.10.037.


Objective: Limited evidence suggests bariatric surgery can result in high cure rates for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in the morbidly obese. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to identify the effects of surgical weight loss on the apnea-hypopnea index.

Methods: Relevant studies were identified by computerized searches of MEDLINE and EMBASE (from inception to March 17, 2008), and review of bibliographies of selected articles. Included studies reported results of polysomnographies performed before and at least 3 months after bariatric surgery. Data abstracted from each article included patient characteristics, sample size who underwent both preoperative and postoperative polysomnograms, types of bariatric surgery performed, results of preoperative and postoperative measures of OSA and body mass index, publication year, country of origin, trial perspective (prospective vs retrospective), and study quality.

Results: Twelve studies representing 342 patients were identified. The pooled mean body mass index was reduced by 17.9 kg/m(2) (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.5-19.3) from 55.3 kg/m(2) (95% CI, 53.5-57.1) to 37.7 kg/m(2) (95% CI, 36.6-38.9). The random-effects pooled baseline apnea hypopnea index of 54.7 events/hour (95% CI, 49.0-60.3) was reduced by 38.2 events/hour (95% CI, 31.9-44.4) to a final value of 15.8 events/hour (95% CI, 12.6-19.0).

Conclusion: Bariatric surgery significantly reduces the apnea hypopnea index. However, the mean apnea hypopnea index after surgical weight loss was consistent with moderately severe OSA. Our data suggest that patients undergoing bariatric surgery should not expect a cure of OSA after surgical weight loss. These patients will likely need continued treatment for OSA to minimize its complications.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Polysomnography
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*