Effects of body position on the upper airway of patients with obstructive sleep apnea

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1995 Jul;152(1):179-85. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.152.1.7599821.


Fast-CT scanning was used to study the effects of changes in body position on upper airway (UA) size and shape in 11 awake subjects with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Six patients with position (P)-dependent OSA were compared with five patients with nonposition (NP)-dependent OSA. Scans were repeated in the prone (PRN), right side (RS), and supine (SUP) body positions at both functional residual capacity and end-inspiratory tidal volume. Significant group, group by position, and borderline group by respiration effects were detected for minimum but not mean UA dimension data. Significant differences between groups were noted in minimum cross-sectional area and minimum lateral distance but not in minimum anteroposterior distance in the RS and SUP positions. Turning from the PRN to the RS or SUP position tended to decrease UA size in the NP group by decreasing the lateral distance, while the opposite effect was found in the P group. The results indicate that changes in body position during wakefulness affect the lateral but not the anteroposterior dimensions of the UA, and the UA behaves differently in patients with NP and P OSA in response to changes in body position.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Posture*
  • Respiratory System / diagnostic imaging*
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Wakefulness