Simulated long-term driving performance before and after uvulopalatopharyngoplasty

ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 1991;53(2):106-10. doi: 10.1159/000276198.


To investigate whether automobile drivers with the clinical features of sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) perform worse than controls in a simulated long-term test drive, and to see if their driving improves after uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), 15 male drivers with SAS, suffering from sleep spells whilst driving, and 10 matched controls without a history of SAS or hypersomnia at the wheel were tested in an advanced driving simulator. Brake reaction time, lateral position deviation and off-road episodes were measured during a 90-min rural drive at twilight conditions. The clinical evaluation was made by a questionnaire scoring symptoms of snoring, sleep disturbances and diurnal sleepiness before and after surgery. Before UPPP the patient group showed impaired performance in all three effect measures compared to controls. UPPP resulted in improved reaction time performance (average mean improvement: 0.5 s, average 90th percentile improvement 0.8 s). Furthermore, 12 of the 15 patients reported a marked improvement regarding sleepiness whilst driving. For these clinically successful cases the number of off-road episodes decreased substantially. We conclude that most patients improve their long-term driving performance as a result of UPPP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palate / surgery
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Uvula / surgery
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / physiopathology*
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / surgery