Effect of obesity and medical comorbidities on outcomes after adjunct surgery for obstructive sleep apnea in cases of adenotonsillectomy failure

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Oct;138(10):891-6. doi: 10.1001/2013.jamaoto.197.


Objective: To evaluate the effect of body mass index (BMI, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) and medical comorbidities on outcomes after lingual tonsillectomy and supraglottoplasty performed for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) caused by lingual tonsillar hypertrophy and occult laryngomalacia.

Design: Retrospective case review series

Setting: Academic tertiary referral center

Patients: Children with persistent OSAS after adenotonsillectomy who underwent surgery to correct obstruction at the level of the lingual tonsils and/or supraglottis identified on sleep endoscopy.

Interventions: All children underwent lingual tonsillectomy, supraglottoplasty, or both.

Main outcome measures: Change in polysomnographic parameters, including apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), number of nighttime apneas, and lowest oxygen saturation level.

Results: We analyzed the medical records of 84 children with persistent OSAS after adenotonsillectomy who underwent either lingual tonsillectomy (n = 68), supraglottoplasty (n = 24) or both (n = 8). Compared with children with lingual tonsillar hypertrophy, children with occult laryngomalacia were younger, had lower BMI, and were more likely to have a medical comorbidity. Overall, both operations significantly improved the AHI; however, children with comorbidities had significantly higher postoperative AHIs after supraglottoplasty than those without, and overweight children had significantly higher postoperative AHIs after lingual tonsillectomy than those of normal weight. The BMI z-score and age had direct, though weak, correlations with postoperative AHI among all children undergoing either technique of adjunct airway surgery.

Conclusions: Lingual tonsillar hypertrophy and occult laryngomalacia are 2 important causes of residual OSAS after adenotonsillectomy. However, they tend to affect distinct populations of children, and though appropriate surgical correction can improve AHI, cure rates are significantly worse for overweight children undergoing lingual tonsillectomy and for children with medical comorbidities undergoing supraglottoplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoids / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology
  • Polysomnography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*
  • Tonsillectomy*
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome