Dynamic changes in the pharyngeal airway of patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) were evaluated by quantitating the findings of real-time imaging performed during wakefulness and spontaneous sleep by means of dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Six patients with OSAS and 3 non-OSAS subjects, selected prospectively and randomly, underwent polysomnography and dynamic MRI. The cross-sectional areas of the soft palate and oropharynx and the anterior-posterior airway dimensions seen during wakefulness and spontaneous sleep were calculated by US National Institutes of Health imaging software. On the basis of a case control study, comparisons were made with age-matched and body mass index matched obese non-OSAS snorers. Spontaneous sleep caused significant obstruction and narrowing of various sites of the pharyngeal airway in the OSAS patients, but not in the non-OSAS subjects. During wakefulness, the non-OSAS subjects showed no marked narrowing of the pharyngeal airways, whereas a transient but significant narrowing was observed in the OSAS patients. The mean values of both the cross-sectional area and the anterior-posterior diameter at the soft palate were significantly reduced by spontaneous sleep in the OSAS patients. Dynamic MRI in awake OSAS patients shows promise as a routine diagnostic tool for localizing the upper airway collapse for appropriate selection of surgical therapy.
- Dynamic magnetic resonance imaging
- Pharyngeal airway
- Sleep apnea syndrome
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