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Oropharyngeal Scintigraphy: A Computerized Analysis of Swallowing in Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea



This study examines the oropharyngeal-upper esophageal scintigraphic transit in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) syndrome, as well as the effect of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) on this transit. Scintigraphy is a safe, noninvasive test that is suitable as a screening test for oropharyngoesophageal motor disorders. A qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the swallowed radionuclide bolus was performed in 47 patients by means of a Cine Mode visual inspection and by computerized analysis. Three groups of patients were studied and compared: group 1, 10 healthy patients; group 2, 18 OSA patients before UPPP; and group 3, 19 OSA patients 6 months up to 2 years after UPPP. Oropharyngoesophageal scintigraphy was normal in 90% of group 1 patients (9/10) as well as in group 3, where 95% of patients (18/19) had a normal transit unlinked to the degree of improvement in the respiratory disturbance index. The radionuclide transit was abnormal in 79% OSA patients(15/18) in group 2. Statistically significant differences of mean transit abnormalities between the three groups were found (P= 0.0001). Moreover, mean transit abnormalities in the OSA patients before UPPP were statistically significantly lower than in the group of patients after UPPP(56.2% vs 87.4,P≤ 0.05).