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Ann Agric Environ Med. 2014;21(1):217-20.

The influence of upper airways diameter on the intensity of obstructive sleep apnea.

Author information

  • 1Chair and Department of Paedodontics, Medical University of Lublin, Poland.
  • 2Chair and Department of Jaw Orthopedics, Medical University of Lublin, Poland.



Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by at least 5 ten-second-long episodes of apnea or hypopnea, per hour of sleep. This disease may lead to severe, life-threatening complications. Therefore, risk analysis and its influence on disease intensity is crucial for proper implementation of preventive treatments.


To determine the relation between the intensity of OSA expressed in Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI), and the anterior-posterior diameter of upper airways at the levels of soft palate and tongue base.


Medical records of 41 patients with sleep apnea (AHI>4) diagnosed through polysomnographic examination obstructive were used for the study. The data consisted of: age and gender, polysomnographic examination results (AHI), lateral cephalogram with cephalomertic analysis, together with measurements of the upper and lower pharyngeal depth according to McNamara. Statistical analysis was carried out in accordance with Pearson's r correlation coefficient test (Statistica 8.0 software package).


Analysis of the influence of upper airways diameter on the intensity of OSA showed that the value of upper Airways diameter at the tongue base level had no statistically significant impact on the value of AHI (p=0.795). However, a statistically significant impact of the value of upper airways diameter on the AHI value (p=0.008) at the soft palate level was observed. Patients with OSA have narrowed upper airways diameter. The value of AHI increases with the decrease of upper diameter and is not dependent on a lower diameter value. Patients with a decreased upper airways diameter should be informed about potential breathing disorders during sleep.

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