Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome in the pediatric age: the role of the otorhinolaryngologist

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2019 Mar;23(1 Suppl):3-8. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_201903_17340.


Objective: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the primary indication for tonsillectomy, one of the most common pediatric surgical procedures, commonly performed in association with adenoidectomy. The objective of this review article is to evaluate the role of the otorhinolaryngologist in pediatric OSA.

Materials and methods: A literature review has been performed on the following topics: peculiarities of sleep-disordered breathing in pediatric age; discrimination of sleep disorders; adenotonsillar hypertrophy; surgical techniques; adjuvant surgical procedures.

Results: The role of the otorhinolaryngologist in pediatric OSA is important for the evaluation of the upper airways and of essential biometric and polysomnographic data and for indication and execution of appropriate surgical treatment. In the majority of healthy children, adenotonsillectomy for OSA results in a dramatic improvement in respiratory parameters as measured by polysomnography. When post-surgical residual OSA occurs, it is essential to monitor patients by means of drug-induced sleep endoscopy (DISE).

Conclusions: Otolaryngologic assessment is of paramount importance to correctly classify a child with OSA. Correct inspection of the upper airway and quantification of the quality of sleep through polysomnography lead to the right therapeutic choice. Knowledge of different surgical techniques helps to deal with residual OSA after studying the obstruction sites by drug-induced sedation endoscopy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Otolaryngology / methods*
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*