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Clinical Evaluation of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children

Gasparini, Giulio MD, DS; Saponaro, Gianmarco MD; Rinaldo, Francesca M.D. MD; Boniello, Roberto DD; Marianetti, Tito Matteo MD, DS; Torroni, Andrea MD, DS; Cervelli, Daniele MD, DS; Nasto, Virginia DD; Pelo, Sandro MD, DS, PhD

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: March 2012 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 387–391
doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e318240fca5
Original Articles

Background Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is often found in children affected by congenital or acquired craniomaxillomandibular malformations. This disease carries different levels of risk, ranging from attention problems at school to growth problems and serious disorders, such as cor pulmonale or sudden infant death. The examination that is most commonly used to evaluate the severity of OSAS is polysomnography, and the therapeutic course is often determined by the disease state. Considering the discrepancy between clinical history and polysomnographic findings, we felt the need to identify an instrument for evaluating OSA to be used as a support for polysomnography.

Materials and Methods This study was carried out on pediatric patients affected by congenital or acquired craniomaxillofacial malformations. We selected 34 pediatric patients, including 15 boys and 19 girls, aged between 1 and 16 years, with a mean age of 7.3 years. The study consisted of individuation of common clinical history data obtained from each patient and associating those data with the level of OSA severity identified by polysomnography. We were able to isolate certain symptoms and signs that can be predictive of OSA from research in the literature and our clinical experience with pediatric patients. In the clinic, we have found that the clinical history, given by the parents, often differs significantly from the instrumental findings obtained with polysomnography. From the previously expressed considerations and comparison of clinical history data and questionnaires, we have extracted the most significant questions for our questionnaire, which are present in the literature but formulated for adults.

Results and Conclusions The obstructive airway child test was found to be a very efficient method to evaluate and diagnose OSA. In all patients, it consistently revealed the pathology and never underestimated OSA severity. The examination focuses on clinical signs and symptoms because, in our opinion, clinical history, reported by the parents, can be more accurate than any instrumental examination.

From the Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Complesso Integrato Columbus, Catholic University Medical School, Rome, Italy.

Received April 11, 2011.

Accepted for publication July 8, 2011.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Gianmarco Saponaro, MD, Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Complesso Integrato Columbus, Catholic University Medical School, Via G. Moscati 31-33, 00168 - Rome, Italy; E-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Mutaz B. Habal, MD