Changes in Central Apnea Index following Pediatric Adenotonsillectomy

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To determine if there are changes in the central apnea index (CAI) when pediatric patients undergo adenotonsillectomy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Study Design.

Case series with chart review.


Two tertiary children's hospitals.

Subjects and Methods.

Children between 1 and 16 years of age who underwent adenotonsillectomy for OSA and had both preoperative and postoperative full-night polysomnography (PSG) with CAI greater than 1 on preoperative PSG were eligible for inclusion. Central apnea was defined as the absence of both inspiratory effort and chest wall movement lasting longer than 20 seconds. Criteria for diagnosis of central sleep apnea (CSA) was CAI greater than 1.


A total of 101 children with OSA had preoperative and postoperative PSG. Fifteen of these patients had a preoperative CAI greater than 1. The mean age was 67.7 months (SD, 62.7 months). The CAI ranged from 1.1 to 11.1. The mean preoperative CAI was 3.9 (SD, 2.9), while the mean postoperative CAI was 1.9 (SD, 4.8). There was significant improvement (P = .008) of the CAI following adenotonsillectomy. Ninety percent of subjects with mild CSA (CAI between 1 and 5) had postoperative resolution of their disease. There was also significant improvement (P = .004) in the obstructive apnea hypopnea index (AHI), with the mean preoperative AHI of 22.8 (SD, 19.8) decreasing to an AHI of 5.5 (SD, 6.5) postoperatively.


Children with OSA and mild CSA on preoperative PSG showed significant improvement in CAI following adenotonsillectomy. Future studies are needed to determine the clinical significance of CSA in children with OSA and to identify treatment strategies.

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