Surgical maxillofacial treatment of obstructive sleep apnea

Plast Reconstr Surg. 1997 Mar;99(3):619-26; discussion 627-8. doi: 10.1097/00006534-199703000-00002.


Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder, with a surprisingly high prevalence. The treatment of choice is nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilation during sleep, which has to be applied throughout the patient's whole life. Because of various underlying pathomechanisms in patients with certain craniofacial disorders--narrow posterior airway space and maxillary-mandibular deficiency--surgical therapy by craniofacial osteotomies seems possible. A series of 38 consecutive patients were treated by 10-mm maxillomandibular advancement by retromolar sagittal split osteotomy and Le Fort I osteotomy, respectively. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome was improved considerably in all patients; there was no significant difference compared to the results under nasal CPAP. In 37 of 38 patients, the postoperative apnea-hypopnea index was reduced clearly to under 10 per hour, oxygen saturation rose, and sleep quality improved. This was achieved by maxillomandibular advancement of 10 mm without secondary refinements in all but 2 patients. In one patient, the apnea-hypopnea index could only be reduced to 20 per hour, probably because of insufficient maxillary advancement. These results indicate that successful surgical treatment is possible in a high percentage of selected patients with certain craniofacial characteristics. In addition to cardiorespiratory polysomnography, there should be routine cephalometric evaluation of all patients. Maxillomandibular advancement should be offered as an alternative therapy to all patients with maxillary and/or mandibular deficiency or dolichofacial type in combination with narrow posterior airway space.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandibular Advancement / methods*
  • Maxilla / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteotomy / methods
  • Osteotomy, Le Fort*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / surgery*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome