Surgical Therapy for Severe Refractory Sleep Apnea in Infants and Children: Application of the Airway Zone Concept

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Obstructive sleep apnea in children may result in hypoxia, right-sided heart failure, and sudden death. Children with craniofacial deformities and/or cerebral palsy are at high risk for the development of obstructive sleep apnea. Prompted by the excellent results obtained in adults when sleep apnea was managed by an aggressive surgical approach, we undertook a similar treatment philosophy in children. Twenty-eight patients representing four diagnostic groups were evaluated and operated on for severe upper airway obstruction: Down syndrome (n =5), cerebral palsy (n = 12), Goldenhar syndrome (n = 4), and a mixed apnea group (n = 7). Tracheostomy was avoided in 25 of 28 patients (89 percent), with a marked decrease in apnea (median 90 percent) and hypopnea (median 87 percent) episodes. Tongue hyoid suspension and skeletal expansion procedures, which were the mainstay of treatment, were applied for the first time in children and adolescents with obstructive sleep apnea. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 96: 34, 1995.)

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