Imaging of sleep-disordered breathing in adults

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a term that includes several chronic conditions in which partial or complete cessation of breathing occurs multiple times throughout the night. Central sleep apnoea (CSA) is uncommon and defined by the episodic cessation of airflow without respiratory effort. Lesions involving the respiratory centre in the brainstem or the origin of the phrenic nerve from the mid-cervical cord are the commonest structural causes of CSA; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will demonstrate the lesion and frequently suggest the likely aetiology. In contrast, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is defined as upper airway obstruction despite ongoing respiratory effort. Repetitive episodes of narrowing or closure of the upper airway are the predominant cause leading to snoring and OSA, respectively. OSA affects 33–40% of the adult population and is associated with multiple adverse health consequences, including a significantly increased risk of serious morbidity and mortality. The incidence is increasing proportionally to the worldwide rise in obesity. Imaging, performed primarily without the involvement of radiologists, has been integral to understanding the anatomical basis of SDB and especially OSA. This article will review the pathophysiology, imaging findings, and sequelae of these common conditions. The role of imaging both in suggesting the incidental diagnoses of SDB and in the investigation of these conditions when the diagnosis is suspected or has been established are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960.e1-960.e16
JournalClinical Radiology
Issue number12
Early online date15 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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