Background: Anesthetics, analgesics, and surgery may profoundly affect sleep architecture and aggravate sleep-related breathing disturbances. The authors hypothesized that patients with preoperative polysomnographic evidence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) would experience greater changes in these parameters than patients without OSA.
Methods: After obtaining approvals from the Institutional Review Boards, consented patients underwent portable polysomnography preoperatively and on postoperative nights (N) 1, 3, 5, and 7 at home or in hospital. The primary and secondary outcome measurements were polysomnographic parameters of sleep-disordered breathing and sleep architecture.
Results: Of the 58 patients completed the study, 38 patients had OSA (apnea hypopnea index [AHI] >5) with median preoperative AHI of 18 events per hour and 20 non-OSA patients had median preoperative AHI of 2. AHI was increased after surgery in both OSA and non-OSA patients (P < 0.05), with peak increase on postoperative N3 (OSA vs. non-OSA, 29 [14, 57] vs. 8 [2, 18], median [25th, 75th percentile], P < 0.05). Hypopnea index accounted for 72% of the postoperative increase in AHI. The central apnea index was low (median = 0) but was significantly increased on postoperative N1 in only non-OSA patients. Sleep efficiency, rapid eye movement sleep, and slow-wave sleep were decreased on N1 in both groups, with gradual recovery.
Conclusions: Postoperatively, sleep architecture was disturbed and AHI was increased in both OSA and non-OSA patients. Although the disturbances in sleep architecture were greatest on postoperative N1, breathing disturbances during sleep were greatest on postoperative N3.