STOP-Bang and prediction of difficult airway in obese patients

J Clin Anesth. 2014 Aug;26(5):360-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2014.01.010. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


Study objective: To determine if a high score (≥ 3) on the STOP-Bang screening questionnaire for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) predicts whether obese patients are at high risk for OSA and increased risk of difficult airway.

Design: Prospective, questionnaire-based clinical assessment.

Setting: University-affiliated hospital.

Patients: 127 ASA physical status 2 and 3 patients, who were scheduled for elective bariatric surgery.

Interventions: Patients were allocated to three groups. Group 1 patients had a previous history of OSA, Group 2 patients had no history of OSA but did have a high STOP-Bang score (≥ 3), and Group 3 patients had no history of OSA but did have a low STOP-Bang score (< 3). Groups 2 and 3 only were assessed using the STOP-Bang questionnaire. After induction and intubation of the patient, an anesthesiologist who was blinded to the three study group allocations completed an airway questionnaire on the three study groups.

Measurements: The frequency of difficult airway, difficult mask ventilation with or without muscle relaxation, poor visualization of the vocal cords, difficulty in blade insertion, and difficult intubation were compared.

Main results: The group of patients with high STOP-Bang scores (Group 2) and those patients previously diagnosed with OSA (Group1) showed a higher risk for difficult airway than the patients with low STOP-Bang scores (Group 3; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: The STOP-Bang score may be used as an effective predictor of difficult airway in obese patients. Obese surgical patients with unknown/undiagnosed OSA status should be evaluated using the STOP-Bang questionnaire score.

Keywords: Difficult airway management; Intratrcheal; Intubation; Mask ventilation; Obesity; STOP-Bang questionnaire.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery / methods*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Laryngeal Masks
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / surgery
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires