Very Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children: Outcomes of Adenotonsillectomy and Risk Factors for Persistence

Amal Isaiah, Hisham Hamdan, Romaine F. Johnson, Kamal Naqvi, Ron B. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objectives: (1) To describe the clinical, demographic and polysomnographic (PSG) characteristics of children with very severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) without significant comorbidities; (2) to assess the outcomes following tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A); and (3) to determine predictors of persistence of OSA after T&A. Study Design: Case series with chart review. Setting: Tertiary-level freestanding children’s hospital. Subjects and Methods: Seventy-four children aged 2 to 12 years who underwent T&A for very severe OSA (obstructive apnea-hypopnea index [AHI] >30) were included. Children with significant comorbidities were excluded. PSG variables were compared pre- and post-T&A using statistical tests. Factors affecting OSA resolution and persistence were studied. Results: The mean (95% confidence interval) age was 4.3 (3.8-4.7) years with the majority black or Hispanic (64/74, 86%). The mean decrease in AHI after T&A was 49 (43-58) (P <.001). Complete resolution of OSA, defined by an AHI <1, or an AHI <5 was seen in 32% (24/74) and 80% (59/74), respectively. Total sleep time (TST) greater than 5 minutes with end-tidal CO2 >50 mm Hg was strongly associated with persistent OSA. The decrease in AHI post-T&A was best predicted by higher preoperative oxygen saturation (SpO2) nadir and lower TST with SpO2 <90% (R2 = 0.24, P <.001). Conclusions: T&A is associated with a significant improvement but not resolution of very severe OSA. The severity of baseline hypercapnia and hypoxemia may best predict persistent OSA after T&A. The study supports obtaining routine post-T&A PSG in children with very severe OSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-134
Number of pages7
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • adenotonsillectomy
  • outcomes
  • very severe obstructive sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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