Pharyngeal morphology: A determinant of successful nasal surgery for sleep apnea




To estimate the effectiveness of nasal surgery on the occurrence of sleep apnea, and to analyze the pharyngeal morphology of apnea patients whose sleep-disordered breathing was ameliorated postoperatively.

Study Design:

Prospective study.


Thirty-five consecutive patients with apnea and nasal obstruction underwent polysomnography and a morphological examination of the upper airway before and after nasal surgery, which included septoplasty, inferior turbinectomy, and/or functional endoscopic sinus surgery.


Sleep apnea was significantly ameliorated in only eight patients. The postoperative reduction in the apnea-hypopnea index tended to be lower in those with a low-positioned soft palate, reflected in an elevated modified Mallampati score, and a narrow retroglossal space. Neither swollen tonsils nor narrow fauces affected the surgical outcome. Regression analysis showed that the modified Mallampati score (P < .05) and the retroglossal space (P < .05) were significant predictors of postoperative improvement in the apnea-hypopnea index.


Among sleep apnea patients suffering from nasal obstruction, nasal surgery is effective in those with a high-positioned soft palate and/or a wide retroglossal space. Laryngoscope, 2009