Polysomnography in Pediatric Otolaryngology: If Not Obstructive Sleep Apnea, What Is It?

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To determine common polysomnographic (PSG) diagnoses for children referred by otolaryngologists.

Study Design

Retrospective case series with chart review.


Single tertiary pediatric hospital (2010-2015).

Subjects and Methods

Review of the medical records of 1258 patients undergoing PSG by otolaryngology referral. Patients who underwent previous otolaryngologic surgery were excluded. Data distributions were evaluated using means with standard deviations for continuous variables and frequencies with percentages for categorical variables.


A total of 1258 patients were included; 55.9% were male, 64.5% were Caucasian, 16.6% had Down syndrome, and 48% had public insurance. The median age at the time of PSG was 5.2 years (range = 0.2-18.94). Indications for PSG were sleep-disordered breathing (SDB; 69.4%), restless sleep (12.7%), airway anomalies (7.5%), and laryngomalacia (7.2%). SDB was seen in 73.4%, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in 53.2%, OSA + central sleep apnea (CSA) in 4.5%, CSA in 0.9%, and non-OSA snoring in 15%. Other diagnoses included periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS; 7.4%), hypoventilation (6.8%), and nonapneic hypoxemia (2.6%). SDB was more common in younger children and seen in 91.4% of children <12 months and in 69.2% of children ≥24 months, while non-OSA snoring was more common with increasing age (3.7% in children <12 months, 17.7% of children ≥24 months). PLMS were seen in 8.9% of children ≥24 months and in no children <12 months.


While OSA and snoring were the most common diagnoses reported, PLMS, alveolar hypoventilation, and CSA occurred in 7.4%, 6.8%, and 5.4%, respectively. These findings indicate that additional diagnoses other than OSA should be considered for children seen in an otolaryngology clinic setting who undergo PSG for sleep disturbances.

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