Adenotonsillectomy and neurocognitive deficits in children with Sleep Disordered Breathing

PLoS One. 2009 Oct 6;4(10):e7343. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007343.


Background: Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) is a common childhood disorder that encompasses a range of sleep-related upper airway obstruction. Children with SDB demonstrate significant neurocognitive deficits. Adenotonsillectomy is the first line of treatment for SDB and whilst this improves respiratory disturbance, it remains to be established whether neurocognitive gains also result.

Methods: A total of 44 healthy snoring children aged 3-12 years awaiting adenotonsillectomy (SDB group), and 48 age and gender matched non-snoring controls from the general community, completed the study. All children underwent polysomnography and neurocognitive assessment at baseline and after a 6-month follow-up (after surgery in the snoring group). Our primary aim was to determine whether neurocognitive deficits in snoring children were significantly improved following adenotonsillectomy.

Results: Wide ranging neurocognitive deficits were found at baseline in SDB children compared to controls, most notably a 10 point IQ difference (P<.001) and similar deficits in language and executive function. Whilst adenotonsillectomy improved respiratory parameters and snoring frequency at 6 months post surgery, neurocognitive performance did not improve relative to controls.

Conclusion: Adenotonsillectomy successfully treated the respiratory effects of SDB in children. However, neurocognitive deficits did not improve 6-months post-operatively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy / methods*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Polysomnography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / surgery*
  • Snoring
  • Tonsillectomy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome