Osteopathic Manipulation of the Sphenopalatine Ganglia Versus Sham Manipulation, in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrom: A Randomised Controlled Trial

J Clin Med. 2021 Dec 24;11(1):99. doi: 10.3390/jcm11010099.


(1) Background: osteopathic manipulation of the sphenopalatine ganglia (SPG) blocks the action of postganglionic sensory fibres. This neuromodulation can reduce nasal obstruction and enhance upper airway stability. We investigated the manipulation of the SPG in 31 patients with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS); (2) Methods: Randomised, controlled, double-blind, crossover study. Participants received active (AM), then sham manipulation (SM), or vice versa. The primary endpoint was apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI). Secondary endpoints were variation of nasal obstruction evaluated by peak nasal inspiratory flow (PNIF) and upper airways stability evaluated by awake critical closing pressure [awake Pcrit]), at 30 min and 24 h. Schirmer's test and pain were assessed immediately post-manipulation. Tactile/gustatory/olfactory/auditory/nociceptive/visual sensations were recorded. Adverse events were collected throughout. (3) Results: SPG manipulation did not reduce AHI (p = 0.670). PNIF increased post-AM but not post-SM at 30 min (AM-SM: 18 [10; 38] L/min, p = 0.0001) and 24 h (23 [10; 30] L/min, p = 0.001). There was no significant difference on awake Pcrit (AM-SM) at 30 min or 24 h). Sensations were more commonly reported post-AM (100% of patients) than post-SM (37%). Few adverse events and no serious adverse events were reported. (4) Conclusions: SPG manipulation is not supported as a treatment for OSAS but reduced nasal obstruction. This effect remains to be confirmed in a larger sample before using this approach to reduce nasal congestion in CPAP-treated patients or in mild OSAS.

Keywords: nasal obstruction; obstructive sleep apnea syndrom; osteopathic physicians; sphenopalatine ganglion block.