A retrospective review of 135 patients surgically treated for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) from 1982 to 1987 was performed to identify perioperative complications and potential risk factors. The incidence of complications was 13% (18/135). Airway problems comprised 77% (14/18) of these complications, resulting in one death. There were three postoperative hemorrhages and one postoperative arrhythmia. Comparison of the complication group versus the noncomplication group showed a statistically significant difference in the minimum oxygen saturation (66% vs. 79%) and apnea index (75 vs. 57) on the preoperative sleep study and in the amount of narcotic administered intraoperatively. Patients with intubation complications tended to be heavier, whereas patients with extubation complications received significantly more narcotic analgesia intraoperatively. Risk for a perioperative complication was not related to age, type of obstructive symptoms, medical problems, or concurrent septoplasty/tonsillectomy. A protocol for perioperative airway management is presented.
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