Study objective: To evaluate the interaction between craniofacial structure and obesity in male patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Design: Retrospective analysis of a cohort of OSA patients. The relationships between neck circumference (NC), body mass index, apnea severity, and craniofacial and upper airway soft-tissue measurements from upright lateral cephalometry were examined. Patients were divided into groups; small to normal NC (group A), intermediate NC (group B), or large NC (group C).
Setting: A university teaching hospital and tertiary sleep referral center.
Patients: A consecutive series of patients with OSA who underwent polysomnography and lateral cephalometry.
Measurements and results: Group A patients were less obese and had more craniofacial abnormalities such as a smaller mandible and maxilla and a more retrognathic mandible. Group B patients had both upper airway soft-tissue and craniofacial abnormalities. Group C patients were more obese with larger tongues and soft palates, and an inferiorly placed hyoid. Group C patients also had fewer craniofacial abnormalities than group A or B patients. There was no difference in airway size among the three groups.
Conclusions: We conclude that there is a spectrum of upper airway soft-tissue and craniofacial abnormalities among OSA patients: obese patients with increased upper airway soft-tissue structures, nonobese patients with abnormal craniofacial structure, and an intermediate group of patients with abnormalities in both craniofacial structure and upper airway soft-tissue structures.