The status of cephalometry in the prediction of non-CPAP treatment outcome in obstructive sleep apnea patients

Sleep Med Rev. 2016 Jun;27:56-73. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2015.05.009. Epub 2015 Jun 9.


Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is the most common sleep disordered breathing disorder (SDB) in adults and is characterized by a recurrent partial or complete collapse of the upper airway during sleep. This can be caused by many factors, sometimes interacting, such as skeletal malformations, soft tissue crowding, respiratory instability and the various effects of aging, obesity and gender that dictate craniofacial and upper airway anatomy. Research has demonstrated that the majority of patients exhibit at least one anatomical component such as retrognathia or a narrow posterior airway space that predisposes to the development of OSAS. Within the predisposing elements for OSAS many seem to point to anatomical characteristics. A standardized and relatively simple radiologic technique to evaluate anatomical craniofacial relationships is cephalometry. This has been used already for a long time in orthodontics, but is now gradually being introduced in OSAS treatment to envisage optimal treatment selection as well as to predict treatment outcomes. The purpose of the present review is to evaluate the contribution of cephalometry in the prediction of outcomes from OSAS treatments that depend on the upper airway morphology in their mechanisms of action such as oral appliances that advance the mandible as well as various surgical methods. In addition, an overview of imaging modalities and methods that currently are being used in cephalometric analysis in OSAS patients is provided. The findings indicate that isolated cephalometric parameters cannot be used to reliably predict treatment outcomes from mandibular advancement devices and surgical methods for OSAS. Extreme or outlying values of cephalometric parameters may rather be used as contra-indicators or 'red flags' instead of predictors.

Keywords: Cephalometry; Mandibular advancement device; Maxillo-mandibular advancement; Multi-level salvage surgery; Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome; Oral appliance; Prediction; Sleep disordered breathing; Therapy outcome; Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cephalometry*
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Humans
  • Mandibular Advancement / instrumentation*
  • Mandibular Advancement / methods
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*