Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Upper Airway Imaging

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Upper Airway Imaging

OSA or Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and is characterized by what causes the stop or pause on breathing, in this case, a muscle may be blocking the air path. It shows repeated episodes of complete or partial obstructions of the upper airway during sleep, despite the effort to breathe, and is usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation.

When you are getting diagnosed with OSA in-lab tests or at-home testing is suggested. An upper airway imaging is currently not part of the routine diagnostic evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) because it can neither confirm nor exclude the disorder. 

Despite this, upper airway imaging has several important roles:

  • It provides information about soft tissue and craniofacial anatomy, which has provided important insights into the pathogenesis of OSA. 
  • It helps in identifying anatomic risk factors for sleep apnea such as enlargement of upper airway soft tissue structures, tongue fat, and reduction in the size of craniofacial structures 
  • I can identify ethnic-specific risk factors for sleep apnea.
  • It identifies potential sites of upper airway obstruction prior to surgical intervention.
  • Helps in discovering pathologic masses or growths that reduce upper airway size, leading to OSA.

There are a variety of imaging techniques that have been used to assess upper airway size and function in patients with OSA. Each technique has certain advantages and limitations. Many of the imaging techniques study awake and upright patients, whereas OSA typically occurs while the patient is asleep in the supine position. Upper airway imaging may identify specific upper airway abnormalities that cause OSA.

It is best to consult and discuss with your doctor your preferred way of treating your OSA as well as the steps on diagnosis



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