A pilot staging system to predict persistent obstructive sleep apnea in children following adenotonsillectomy

David F. Smith, James R. Benke, Susan Yaster, Emily F. Boss, Stacey L. Ishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives/Hypothesis A recent meta-analysis by Friedman et al. found that 66% of children have resolution of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (TA). However, accurate predictors of persistent OSA in children despite surgery are difficult to identify. We evaluate the utility of staging children with OSA using characteristics predictive of adult palatoplasty success. Study Design A retrospective analysis of children who underwent sleep studies before and after TA in a tertiary care center from 2008 through 2011. Methods Tonsil size (TS)/modified Mallampati position score (MMP)/body mass index (BMI) z Score were used to categorize patients into a three- and four-stage tonsillectomy staging system. Stage 1 included patients with low MMP scores/large tonsils; stage 2 with low MMP scores/small tonsils or high MMP scores/large tonsils. Stage 3 included patients with high MMP scores/small tonsils. For the four-stage system, any patient with a BMI z Score ≥2.0 was stage 4. Results Thirty-five patients (14 females) were included (mean age, 6.8 years; range, 1.0-18.6 years). OSA severity ranged from mild (n = 6), moderate (n = 10), to severe (n = 19), with a mean respiratory disturbance index (RDI) of 20.9 before surgery and 2.4 after. Similar to results seen for adult palatoplasty, staging by TS/MMP/BMI corresponded with response to surgery. In stage 1 to 2, 11/17 (64.7%) children had RDI <1.5 postoperatively, with decreasing TA success rates in stages 3 to 4 at 10/18 (55.5%). Although these results were not statistically significant (P =.14), the trend was similar to the adult analysis. Conclusions A trend toward a dose-response relationship was seen between physical exam staging and persistent OSA after TA. Further data collection and analysis with a larger sample size are warranted. Level of Evidence 4. Laryngoscope, 2013

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1817-1822
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013


  • Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea
  • adenotonsillectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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