Transverse Retropalatal Collapsibility Is Associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Severity and Outcome of Relocation Pharyngoplasty

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The aim of this study was to investigate whether the retropalatal airway shape and collapsibility defined by awake nasopharyngoscopy with Müller’s maneuver were associated with apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), positional dependency, and surgical outcome of relocation pharyngoplasty in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

Study Design

Case series with planned data collection.


Tertiary referral center.

Subjects and Methods

A total of 45 obstructive sleep apnea patients were included who underwent conservative treatment (n = 13) or relocation pharyngoplasty (n = 32), and their baseline and postoperative polysomnographies and awake nasopharyngoscopies with Müller’s maneuver were reviewed. Shape ratio (transverse diameter [TD] / longitudinal diameter [LD]) in the stationary and Müller’s phases and collapsibility (ColTD and ColLD) of the airway at the level of the uvular base were measured with a picture archiving and communication system. Intra- and interrater reliabilities were assessed. Associations among nasopharyngoscopic measurements, AHI, positional dependency, and surgical success (defined as a reduction of AHI ≥50% and a postoperative AHI ≤20/h) were statistically analyzed.


Reliability tests indicated substantial agreements of all nasopharyngoscopic measurements between raters and within raters. A higher baseline ColTD was significantly associated with an elevated AHI (r = 0.49, P = .001), whereas a lower postoperative ColTD was significantly related to surgical success (r = −0.38, P = .034). Nasopharyngoscopic findings were not statistically significantly correlated with positional dependency.


Transverse retropalatal collapsibility measured by awake nasopharyngoscopy with Müller’s maneuver helps to predict individuals with moderate to severe sleep apnea and surgical outcome.

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