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Evaluation and management of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea beyond tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

Shott, Sally R.

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: December 2011 - Volume 19 - Issue 6 - p 449–454
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e32834c1728
Pediatric otolaryngology: Edited by Lisa Buckmiller

Purpose of review There is an increasing percentage of children with persistent obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) after removal of the tonsils and adenoids (T&A). Although sleep apnea has been an active area of research and treatment in the adult population, our awareness of this problem in children is still in its initial stages. In addition, therapies to successfully treat this residual OSA are still not fully established. It is important to develop evaluation and management protocols for these children.

Recent findings This review will discuss risk factors associated with persistent OSA after T&A and techniques to evaluate the pediatric airway in order to identify the site, or sites, of obstruction. Various medical and surgical options are presented.

Summary Clinicians need to be aware of the potential for persistent sleep disordered breathing and OSA in children, despite previous T&A. Evaluation protocols and techniques will differ in children, due to limitations in their cooperation during the physical examination. Alternative methods, such as airway endoscopy and cine MRI, are presented. Medical and surgical options are presented. Outcomes data for pediatric populations are rare. Multilevel, single stage surgery has a higher risk for oropharyngeal stenosis in children compared with adults and conservative, multistage approaches may be more appropriate.

Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Correspondence to Sally R. Shott, MD, Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA Tel: +1 513 636 4356; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.