Imaging of adult obstructive sleep apnoea

Andy Whyte, Daren Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is characterised by recurrent upper airway collapse during sleep resulting in chronic and repetitive hypoxia, hypercapnia, subsequent arousal and fragmented sleep. Symptoms are insidious and diagnosis is usually delayed. Moderate to severe OSA has serious health implications with significant increase in all causes of mortality in patients with the condition as compared with unaffected individuals. The prevalence of OSA in the 30–70 year age group is estimated at 27% of males and 11% of females and it increases with age. 80% of affected individuals are obese and as obesity rates rise, so has the prevalence of OSA. An overnight polysomnogram (PSG) is required for a definitive diagnosis of OSA. Imaging has played a fundamental role in the evaluation of the anatomical factors associated with recurrent upper airway collapse and the pathogenesis of OSA. The upper airway is frequently imaged by radiologists, providing an opportunity to detect features that are strongly associated with unsuspected OSA and to raise the possibility of this diagnosis. The gold standard of treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which acts as a pneumatic splint for the upper airway. However, efficacy is frequently limited by poor tolerance; clinicians and patients are increasingly opting for one of a range of surgical procedures. Dedicated imaging protocols can be performed for evaluation of the upper airway to aid surgical planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-187
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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