Sleep apnea tied to post-op trouble: study
People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are at increased risk of experiencing complications after elective surgery, researchers report.
In obstructive sleep apnea, the back of the throat collapses periodically during sleep, and breathing stops for a few moments until the patient wakens enough to resume breathing.
Dr. Dennis Hwang at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Systems, New Hyde Park, New York and colleagues studied 172 patients with features of sleep apnea who were being assessed prior to elective surgery. The patients underwent home nighttime oximetry to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood and to establish the incidence of “oxygen desaturation,” which is used to assess the extent of sleep apnea episodes.
Following surgery, the researchers found that patients who had had 5 or more noteworthy episodes of sleep apnea per hour had a much higher rate of postoperative complications than those who had had fewer than 5 episodes.
Nearly 14 percent of patients with 5 to 15 episodes experienced complications after surgery. This was significantly less than the 17.5 percent complication rate seen in patients who had more than 15 oxygen desaturation events.
Overall, nine patients had breathing complications after surgery, five had cardiovascular complications, two had bleeding complications and one developed gastrointestinal complications.
Given these findings, Hwang and colleagues think studies are needed to evaluate the effect of treating sleep-disordered breathing around the time of surgery.
SOURCE: Chest, May 2008.
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