Thursday, October 28, 2010

Researchers Encourage Sleep Apnea Screening Before Surgery

According to a recent article in Sleep Review, research indicates that physicians should screen for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) before performing surgery.

With excess weight and OSA becoming more prevalent in modern society, some researchers say extra precautions need to occur before surgery.

A clinical study presented at Anesthesiology 2010 indicates that OSA screening is necessary in order to properly manage the patient in the operating room.

“If patients with unidentified obstructive sleep apnea undergo surgery, they may have an increased chance of experiencing complications during and after surgery,” said Dr. Frances Chung.

Study participants underwent an overnight sleep study or a home sleep test. Researchers looked at the apnea hypopnea index (AHI) to classify a patient as having OSA. Higher AHI scores reflect a greater number of pauses in breath per hour of sleep.

People with severe OSA stop breathing 30 or more times per hour for ten seconds or more. These pauses can cause serious medical problems.

“A growing amount of evidence suggests that obstructive sleep apnea is associated with heart and lung disease, diabetes mellitus, and a higher rate of early death,” said Chung.

This study included 819 patients. Tests showed that 536 patients had OSA. Notably, 84 percent of the OSA patients reported at least one OSA-related symptom such as snoring, daytime drowsiness, or an observed pause in breath.

Surgeons and anesthesiologists were not informed of the results. Overall, 85 percent of the patients with severe OSA were not identified by surgeons, and 47 percent of the patients with severe OSA were not identified by anesthesiologists, despite apparent symptoms.

“The results suggest that implementation of a screening procedure would be in the best interest of patient care and will serve to significantly reduce undiagnosed cases of obstructive sleep apnea during the perioperative period,” said Chung.

Sleep apnea should be diagnosed at an AASM-accredited sleep center.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.