Obstructive sleep apnea is underrecognized and underdiagnosed in patients undergoing bariatric surgery

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2012 Jul;269(7):1865-71. doi: 10.1007/s00405-012-1948-0. Epub 2012 Feb 5.


The aim of this study was to evaluate prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea among patients undergoing bariatric surgery and the predictive value of various clinical parameters: body mass index (BMI), neck circumference (NC) and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). We performed a prospective, multidisciplinary, single-center observational study including all patients on the waiting list for bariatric surgery between June 2009 and June 2010, irrespective of history or clinical findings. Patients visited our ENT outpatient clinic for patient history, ENT and general examination and underwent a full night polysomnography, unless performed previously. As much as 69.9% of the patients fulfilled the criteria for OSA (mean BMI 44.2 ± SD 6.4 kg/m(2)); 40.4% of the patients met the criteria for severe OSA. The regression models found BMI to be the best clinical predictor, while the ROC curve found the NC to be the most accurate predictor of the presence of OSA. The discrepancy of the results and the poor statistical power suggest that all three clinical parameters are inadequate predictors of OSA. In conclusion, in this large patient series, 69.9% of patients undergoing BS meet the criteria for OSA. More than 40% of these patients have severe OSA. A mere 13.3% of the patients were diagnosed with OSA before being placed on the waiting list for BS. On statistical analysis, increased neck circumference, BMI and the ESS were found to be insufficient predictors of the presence of OSA. Polysomnography is an essential component of the preoperative workup of patients undergoing BS. When OSA is found, specific perioperative measures are indicated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Bariatric Surgery / methods*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity* / complications
  • Obesity* / surgery
  • Polysomnography / methods
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / epidemiology