Improvement in Central Sleep Apnea Following Adenotonsillectomy in Children

Laryngoscope. 2022 Feb;132(2):478-484. doi: 10.1002/lary.29784. Epub 2021 Jul 29.


Objective: Previous studies examining changes in central sleep apnea (CSA) following adenotonsillectomy (T&A) performed for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children have been limited by sample size and analysis of only certain populations. The aim of this study was to determine whether CSA improves following T&A and what factors mediate this change.

Methods: This was a retrospective case series from 1994 to 2020 of children undergoing primary T&A for OSA (obstructive apnea-hypopnea index ≥1) with CSA (central apnea index [CAI] ≥1) and preoperative and postoperative polysomnograms within 12 months of T&A. Polysomnograms were analyzed for improvement in CSA, defined as: 1) if preoperative CAI >5, a postoperative CAI <5; or 2) if preoperative CAI <5, a postoperative CAI <1.

Results: One hundred twenty-three patients were included. Median age was 5.5 years (interquartile range, 2.9-8.4). Most patients were overweight/obese (58.5%). Nineteen (15.4%) had a syndromic condition. Preoperative CAI was ≥5 in 21 (17.1%) patients. CAI significantly decreased following T&A (preoperative 2.1, postoperative 0.4; P < .001). Thirty-two (26.0%) patients had CSA postoperatively. Improvement in the microarousal index and older age were significantly associated with improvement in CSA.

Conclusions: T&A led to resolution of CSA in most children with OSA. Improvement in the microarousal index was associated with improvement in CAI, suggesting that preoperative central apneas may be postarousal and thus resolve following T&A.

Level of evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 132:478-484, 2022.

Keywords: Central sleep apnea; obstructive sleep apnea; sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / surgery*
  • Tonsillectomy*
  • Treatment Outcome