Considerations for patients with obstructive sleep apnea undergoing ambulatory surgery

Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2011 Dec;24(6):605-11. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e32834a10c7.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this article is to discuss the anesthetic considerations of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients undergoing ambulatory surgery and the current recommendations based on recent evidence.

Recent findings: It is documented that 75% of patients with high propensity for OSA were not diagnosed prior to ambulatory surgery. An OSA screening questionnaire, the STOP-Bang questionnaire, may be useful to identify patients who have high risk of OSA. Patients with mild-to-moderate OSA with optimized comorbid condition should be able to safely undergo ambulatory surgery. However, severe OSA patients without optimized comorbid conditions are not ideal candidates for ambulatory surgery. Recently, transient oxygen desaturation in postanesthetic care unit has been described in OSA patients with no further increase in unanticipated hospital admission after ambulatory surgery. However, OSA patients undergoing ambulatory upper airway surgery often have lower threshold for hospitalization. A majority of OSA patients are undergoing ambulatory surgery safely. Careful choice of OSA patients, the use of short-acting anesthetic agents with increased perioperative vigilance helps to reduce the adverse cardiopulmonary events in the ambulatory anesthetic settings. Facilities for inpatient admission of OSA patients when necessary should be available. It may not be safe to discharge severe OSA patients who require narcotic analgesics in the postoperative period.

Summary: The recent publications indicated that the majority of OSA patients may be done as ambulatory surgical patients with few adverse events. However, it may not be safe to do patients with severe OSA requiring postoperative narcotics as ambulatory surgical patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures*
  • Anesthesia*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications
  • Perioperative Care / methods
  • Polysomnography
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery