The Incidence and Characterization of Globus Sensation, Dysphagia, and Odynophagia Following Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

J Clin Sleep Med. 2018 Jan 15;14(1):127-132. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.6898.


Study objectives: To determine the incidence, duration, and predictors of swallowing-related symptoms following upper airway surgery for obstructive sleep apnea.

Methods: Adults (age 18 years or older) who underwent surgery for obstructive sleep apnea at a tertiary care institution from January 2012 to December 2015 were retrospectively reviewed. The incidence, duration, and associated factors of postoperative swallowing complaints were evaluated.

Results: A total of 130 patients (135 surgical encounters) met criteria for inclusion. There were 91 men (70.0%) and 39 women (30.0%) with a median age of 60 years (range: 19-79). Presurgical diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease was present in 57 patients (43.8%). An average of 2.1 procedures (± 0.8) were conducted at each encounter. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (54.8%) was the most common followed by radiofrequency ablation of the soft palate (34.8%) and tongue base (29.6%). Postoperatively, 25 patients (19.8%) complained of dysphagia, 14 (10.9%) of globus, and 9 (6.7%) of odynophagia. Preoperative gastroesophageal reflux (odds ratio [OR] 4.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.41-11.91) and hyoid myotomy with suspension (OR 4.88, 95% CI 1.34-17.77) were significant predictors for dysphagia. Radiofrequency ablation of the tongue base (OR 5.00, 95% CI 1.28-19.50) was a predictor for globus sensation. Median symptom durations, in months, were 4.0 for dysphagia, 7.3 for globus, and 3.0 for odynophagia.

Conclusions: Preoperative gastroesophageal reflux and hyoid myotomy with suspension procedure were associated with postoperative dysphagia whereas radiofrequency ablation of the tongue base was associated with globus. These findings can assist surgeons in providing preoperative counseling and postoperative supportive measures regarding dysphagic symptoms following sleep surgery.

Keywords: obstructive sleep apnea; reflux; surgical treatment of obstructive sleep apnea; swallowing/dysphagia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Comorbidity
  • Deglutition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palate, Soft / surgery
  • Pharynx / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensation
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*
  • South Carolina / epidemiology
  • Time
  • Uvula / surgery
  • Young Adult