Study objective: To compare efficacy, side effects, patient compliance, and preference between oral appliance (OA) therapy and nasal-continuous positive airway pressure (N-CPAP) therapy.
Design: Randomized, prospective, crossover study.
Setting: University hospital and tertiary sleep referral center.
Patients: Twenty-seven unselected patients with mild-moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Interventions: There was a 2-week wash-in and a 2-week wash-out period, and 2 x 4-month treatment periods (OA and N-CPAP). Efficacy, side effects, compliance, and preference were evaluated by a questionnaire and home sleep monitoring.
Measurements and results: Two patients dropped out early in the study and treatment results are presented on the remaining 25 patients. The apnea/hypopnea index was lower with N-CPAP (3.5 +/- 1.6) (mean +/- SD) than with the OA (9.7 +/- 7.3) (p < 0.05). Twelve of the 25 patients who used the OA (48%) were treatment successes (reduction of apnea/hypopnea to <10/h and relief of symptoms), 6 (24%) were compliance failures (unable or unwilling to use the treatment), and 7 (28%) were treatment failures (failure to reduce apnea/hypopnea index to <10/h and/or failure to relieve symptoms). Four people refused to use N-CPAP after using the OA. Thirteen of the 21 patients who used N-CPAP were overall treatment successes (62%), 8 were compliance failures (38%), and there were no treatment failures. Side effects were more common and the patients were less satisfied with N-CPAP (p < 0.005). Seven patients were treatment successes with both treatments, six of these patients preferred OA, and one preferred N-CPAP as a long-term treatment.
Conclusions: We conclude that OA is an effective treatment in some patients with mild-moderate OSA and is associated with fewer side effects and greater patient satisfaction than N-CPAP.